Keeping Mentally Healthy
Caring for our community
Feelings of worry and unease can be expected following a stressful event, such as the COVID-19 global pandemic, however it is important that we learn to manage our stress before it turns to more severe anxiety and panic.
Constant media coverage about the Coronavirus can keep us in a heightened state of anxiety. Try to limit related media exposure and instead seek out factual information from reliable sources such as the Australian Government’s health alert or other trusted organisations such as the World Health Organisation.
KEEP THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE
When we are stressed, it is easy to see things as worse than they really are. Rather than imagining the worst-case scenario and worrying about it, ask yourself the following:
Am I getting ahead of myself, assuming something bad will happen when I really don’t know the outcome? Remind yourself that the actual number of confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Australia is extremely low.
Am I overestimating how bad the consequences will be? Remember, illness due to Coronavirus infection is usually mild and most people recover without needing specialised treatment.
Am I underestimating my ability to cope? Sometimes thinking about how you would cope, even if the worst were to happen, can help you put things into perspective.
Take reasonable precautions
Being proactive by following basic hygiene principles can keep your anxiety at bay. The World Health Organisation recommends a number of protective measures against the Coronavirus, including:
Wash your hands frequently
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
Stay at home if you begin to feel unwell until you fully recover
Seek medical care early if you have a fever, cough or experience breathing difficulties.
Tips for talking with children about their concerns and fears
Children will inevitably pick up on the concerns and anxiety of others, whether this be through listening and observing what is happening at home or at school. It is important that they can speak to you about their own concerns. Answer their questions. Do not be afraid to talk about the coronavirus with children. Given the extensive media coverage and the increasing number of people wearing face masks in public, it is not surprising that some children are aware of the virus. Providing opportunities to answer their questions in an honest and age- appropriate way can help reduce any anxiety they may be experiencing.
You can do this by:
Speaking to them about Coronavirus in a calm manner.
Asking them what they already know about the virus so you can clarify any misunderstandings they may have.
Letting them know that it is normal to experience some anxiety when new and stressful situations arise giving them a sense of control by explaining what they can do to stay safe (e.g. wash their hands regularly, stay away from people who are coughing or sneezing)
Not overwhelming them with unnecessary information (e.g. death rates) as this can increase their anxiety.
Reassure them that Coronavirus is less common and severe in children compared to adults.
The challenges associated with social distancing and isolation, including separation from loved ones, loss of freedom and reduced income, are leading some people to experience feelings of anxiety, boredom, frustration and fear. This information sheet from The Australian Psychological Society outlines some useful strategies you can use to maintain good mental health during times of social distancing and isolation.
All the above websites have evidence based information on how to support your child or young person with anxiety and how to manage our/their feelings in times of uncertainly.
As parents we need to model calmness and stability to our children, we are their anchor in uncertain times.
If we are struggling with our own heighten anxiety then we need to seek support and assistance with a trusted friend or family member or seek professional assistance. Just remember over checking the news and media and using unreliable sources will only feed misinformation and spark more anxiety for ourselves and our children.
Keep up-to-date but be aware this event does not turn into an unhealthy obsession of media bingeing.
Be calm but alert.
For any urgent mental health needs please contact your GP or Access Line on 1800 800 944 for further assistance available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If you have any concerns for your child please do not hesitate
to contact Dr Stephanie Jarratt, College Counsellor
through the College OfficE
Dr Stephanie Jarratt offers counselling via FaceTime, phone, WhatsApp and Skype for all family members, compliments of the Wagga Wagga Christian College community.