Locked down again? We were pleased to team-up with VicHealth to share some ideas for how parents can support their teen’s mental health at this time. What else has worked for you?
1) Acknowledge their experience, validate their feelings and recognise their personal strengths. Try to see things from their perspective. It’s okay to feel frustrated, sad or disappointed about missing an important celebration or not seeing friends. #covid19vic
2) Worry about the future is understandable. This is a tough time and everyone will experience it and react differently. Your teen will also have unique strengths. How have they displayed resilience in tough times in the past?
3) Help them keep a daily routine where possible – but not so strictly that it causes more stress! Encourage regular sleep and wake times, meal times and scheduling of study time and regular breaks during remote learning. Discuss how these routines can be supported as a family.
4) Support the use of positive coping strategies. Practice, be patient. Our thoughts impact our feelings and behaviours so think about problem solving, managing worries, practicing gratitude, cultivating self-compassion, and relaxation – often useful when trying to fall asleep.
5) Encourage connection with others in COVID-safe ways – physically distanced, online. Supportive and trusting social relationships, are important. Are there ways to celebrate milestones? Could online forums help connect with others on specific topics or when support is needed?
6) Worried your teen is disengaging from learning? Is it all classes or just one or two? If just one or two, help your child think about why some classes are working better than others for them. What communication have you had with your child’s teachers? Don’t hesitate to let the school know about any specific concerns.
7) Schedule opportunities for creativity, self-expression, and learning new things if this feels good for your teen and doesn’t add pressure. Music, art, reading, writing, cooking, dancing, or learning something new online. Promotes a state of flow and achievement. As a family?
8) Encourage healthy habits and be a role model as best you can. Get outside for some fresh air at least once a day. Can you both walk together? Exposure to light during the day helps sleep at night. Engage your teen in meal planning or cooking together.
9) Discuss expectations around screen time and think about whether exposure to TV news is helpful. The online space can be a supportive place where teens can connect. Help your teen to identify fake news and invite them to talk about their negative experiences online too.
10) If you’re concerned about your teen’s mental health, contact your GP. Have they been sad, worried, anxious, withdrawn, angry? Have their thoughts, feelings or behaviours changed? Are they sleeping badly or has their eating changed? It’s ok to ask for help as parents.
11) Be kind to yourself and make sure you seek support for yourself as well. Being a parent is challenging, not to mention during a pandemic. Seek information online from good sources: @RCHMelbourne, @VicHealth or others. Never feel ashamed to ask for help. 🙏
Thank you to Dr Monika Raniti and Professor Susan Sawyer for compiling this content for Dr Sandro Demaio and Vic Health.
We know that COVID-19 is impacting on the health and wellbeing of young people, here is a list of resources that may be helpful ➡ https://rch.org.au/cah/about_us/COVID-19_and_adolescent_health_%E2%80%93_helpful_resources_to_consider/