By Muhibbah Khan
A few years ago it was announced that all individuals would have to quarantine within their homes due to this new virus that had started spreading across the globe. No one could have predicted the scale at which the COVID-19 pandemic would forever change our lives. As adults, many of us have found that our lives have changed in various ways due to the pandemic and now as we are slowly transitioning back into this “new normal”, we can truly recognize the short and long term impacts it has left on us. Similarly, this pandemic has had quite a significant impact on children and adolescents. There was a study completed where an online questionnaire was administered to over 4000 children and adolescents that found the prevalence of clinical depressive symptoms among the youth had almost doubled in percentage during the spread of the virus (Wagner, 2020). Another survey was completed using the PHQ-9 questionnaire used to assess depression and it too found that depressive and anxiety symptoms were higher than the normal average before the pandemic (Wagner, 2020).
One of the largest impacts of COVID-19 on children has been the delay in receiving an education due to school closures which has led to the formation of cognitive and behavioral issues and we are just starting to see the cumulative effect. Although the impact has been significantly greater for children who, prior to the pandemic, already faced barriers when it came to education, children across the board were impacted. “There are, and will continue to be, clear effects of the coronavirus on children’s education, social life, and physical and mental health. For children in key development stages, such as the very young and those in adolescence, disruption of many months will have a larger impact on social development” (Ramchandani, 2020).
As a parent, it can be overwhelming to learn that the pandemic may have affected your child’s development, but it is important to understand the importance of taking steps to deal with the impact now as opposed to allowing your children to carry on without addressing the issues. It’s important to remember that children are sponges, in fact, multiple studies show that depression and anxiety in a parent can be linked to a higher risk of mental health issues in their child (Ramchandani, 2020). As such, it is important for parents to take steps in receiving treatment for the trauma that they experienced due to the pandemic while simultaneously seeking out mental health support through psychiatry or therapy for their children (). . Overall, the most important thing to remember is to give yourself and your children time to work through the effects of the pandemic and to actively seek out support.
Ramchandani, P. (2020). Children and covid-19. New Scientist, 246(3277), 21.
Wagner, K. D., MD PhD. (2020, October 13). New Findings About Children’s Mental Health During
COVID-19. Psychiatric Times. https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/new-findings-children-mental-health-covid-19