Child’s Mental Health during Covid-19

The stress, fear, grief, isolation and uncertainty created by Covid-19 can wear anyone down, but many children and teenagers have had an especially tough time coping emotionally. As more people are receiving vaccines, there is some growing hope that the pressures of the pandemic will ease, but the struggles and losses of the past year will continue to affect families for some time to come.

Continue to check in with your child and watch and listen for signs that they are struggling. Besides that, remember that your psychologist is there to help.

How is your Child Coping during Covid-19?

Talk to your child about how they are feeling. Feeling depressed, hopeless, anxious, and angry may be signs that they could benefit from more support during these difficult times. Keep in mind that adolescents and young adults may try and hide their struggles because of fear, shame or a sense of responsibility to avoid burdening others. Younger children may not know how to talk about these feelings but may show changes in their behaviours or development.

Recognizing Signs of Stress in Your Child

Signs of stress and mental health challenges are not the same for every child or teen, but there are some common symptoms.

Infants, toddlers and young children may show regression in skills and developmental milestones. They may also have increased problems with:
• Fussiness and irritability, startling and crying more easily and are more difficult to console.
• Falling asleep and waking up more during the night.
• Feeding issues such as frantic nippling, more reflux, constipation or loose stools, or new complaints of stomach pain.
• Separation anxiety, seeming more clingy, withdrawn or hesitant to explore.
• Hitting, frustration, biting and more frequent or more intense tantrums.
• Bedwetting after they are potty trained.
• Urgently expressed needs while seemingly unable to feel satisfied.
• Conflict and aggression or themes like illness or death during play.

Older children and adolescents may show signs of distress with symptoms such as:
• Change in mood that is unusual for your children, such as ongoing irritability, feelings of hopelessness or rage, and frequent conflicts with friends and family.
• Changes in behaviour such as stepping back from personal relationships. If your outgoing teen shows little interest in texting or video chatting with their friends, for example, this may be cause for concern.
• A loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed.
• A hard time falling or staying asleep, or beginning to sleep all the time.
• Changes in appetite, weight or eating patterns, such as never being hungry or eating all the time.
• Problems with memory, thinking or concentration.
• Less interest in schoolwork and a drop in academic effort.
• Changes in appearance such as a lack of basic personal hygiene.
• An increase in risky or reckless behaviours, such as using drugs or alcohol.
• Thoughts about death or suicide, or talking about it.

How Your Psychologist Can Help

Staying in touch with your psychologist is more important than ever during the pandemic. If you have any concerns, ask your psychologist about checking in on your child’s social and emotional health. This can be especially important for children facing higher rates of illness or risk from Covid-19, such as minorities and those with special healthcare needs. The psychologist can screen for depression and ask about other concerns like anxiety or trouble coping with stress.

A psychologist may also ask about these symptoms in other family members, as this can impact your child’s health, or whether they know anyone who has become sick with Covid-19. It is important to offer your teen some privacy to talk with the psychologist during the visit to ensure they have the chance to speak as openly as possible.

Dealing with the Loss of a Loved One to Covid-19

Children, adolescents, and families who experienced the loss of a loved family member or friend to Covid-19 are at an increased risk for mental health challenges and may need special attention and professional counselling to manage their loss and grief.

Supporting Your Child

Your psychologist can give you guidance on the way to best support your child and help them build resilience. Some children or adolescents may need more time and space to express their feelings. Some may do better with gradual conversations on how to manage stress. Others might be more comfortable with direct conversations or activities. They may need to talk to a trusted adult about how to safely maintain social connections, and their feelings of boredom, loss and even guilt if they have sometimes not kept safe physical distancing.

Self-Care and Setting the Tome

Parents set the tone in the household. Expressing extreme doom or fear can affect your children. It can be challenging to stay positive, especially if you are struggling with your own stress. However, try to stay positive and relay consistent messages that a brighter future lies ahead. It helps to set aside time to take care of yourself when possible and seek the support you may need for your own mental health. Practising mindfulness, focusing on the present moment, yoga or stretching can help the entire family build coping skills. Build-in downtime for the whole family to connect and relax, enjoy a nap, movie time or simply spend time together.


Keep communication open between you and your child, and don’t hesitate to talk to your psychologist about ways to help maintain your family’s mental health during this difficult time.