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The Mental Health Care Crisis Continues One Year Later...Maintaining Emotional Wellness during the COVID-19 Pandemic


Join Dr. Monique Collier Nickles on 4/13/21 for a live discussion related to this post by registering for ChildWIN's free Zoom event at

The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has been stressful and traumatic for many people, particularly our children and adolescents. As we approach the pandemic’s one year anniversary, unfortunately, many of us are continuing to grapple with its distressing effects both physically and emotionally.

Stress during this pandemic has been characterized by a number of issues including:

  • Fear and anxiety about the disease, one’s own health, and the health of one’s loved ones
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Difficulty sleeping and concentrating
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
  • Social disruption, disconnection and disappointment
  • Cognitive overload
  • Zoom fatigue
  • Pandemic burnout

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations.  How one responds to the pandemic could depend on your background, age, occupation, medical history, as well as the community you live in. Nevertheless, stress can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions and reactions in both adults and children.

Maintaining a healthy emotional life and stress management is important to overall health. Here are some basic tips to support you and your children’s emotional wellness during this crisis:

  1. Experience emotions. Share feelings, worries, and hopes, and acknowledge and validate these feelings. Children shouldn’t be navigating their feelings alone. Provide a controlled space to understand what is going on and ways to process it. This can help them navigate distressing emotions.
  2. Lean into your support system. Keep in touch virtually or safely in small gatherings with important people in your life and your child’s life.
  3. Practice self-care. Be creative about doing things and engaging in activities that bring you and your children joy.
  4. Limit news consumption and ensure it is coming from a reliable source. Watch what you need to stay informed, but then turn it off and do something that makes your family feel connected and whole.
  5. Maintain a home schedule and routine to stay on track with sleep, exercise, and nutrition. Routine is definitely helpful so that life is more predictable.
  6. Honor the pandemic anniversary and create meaning. Suggestions include:
  • Taking a Nature Hike to Reflect
  • Planting a garden
  • Organizing an extended family zoom dinner
  • Writing a poem
  • Observing a moment of silence
  • Creating a Family art project
  • Lighting a candle
  • Making a time capsule

Remember this is a challenging and unprecedented time. Be compassionate and patient with yourself and children and honor your emotions without judgement, guilt, or shame.

Need Help??

If you, your children, or someone you care about is overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others, please call:

  • 911
  • Disaster Distress Helpline, 1-800-985-5990

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