06 June 2022

Managing the long-term effects of the pandemic on your child's mental health

Key Takeaways Children have missed out on normal developmental opportunities throughout the pandemic. Their social skills are out of practice, and parents may need to provide children with more coaching and explicit instruction than they have had to in the past. Feeling upset by the pandemic is a natural response for children to have.  Two key…, In what ways has the pandemic impacted children’s development?, The universal experience for children in the pandemic has been missing normal developmental opportunities. So much of what helps young people grow and learn comes from enjoying the company of a wide range of caring adults, spending time with a variety of peers and getting to engage in new and interesting experiences. Whatever else children and…, How have children’s social skills been affected by the pandemic?, In terms of social skills, kids are out of practice. Part of how they learn how to get along with others is by spending time with people, making friends, and also by being with people they wouldn't necessarily choose to be around. It's with practice that children and adults get better at doing all of those things. So we are definitely seeing signs…, How have you seen the pandemic impacting children’s mental health?, Without question, the pandemic has caused tremendous distress for children and their families. Children are very sad, very anxious or even very angry about all they've been through. What we're likely to see in the immediate term are children who are just a bit more emotionally fragile than they would be normally. We can help children with that by…, What can a parent do if they are concerned about their child’s reaction to difficult feelings?, I think the first thing that you always want to do is to validate that they are suffering: “Your feelings make sense. You're having the right feeling at the right time. This has been an incredibly difficult period historically, and you've lived through it.” The second step is to make the distinction between the feeling being the problem and the…, Are there any long-term mental health effects you anticipate seeing in children coming out of this pandemic? What can parents do to mitigate them?, I think the outcomes we want to try to prevent are children who become extremely cautious as a result of the pandemic. Their lives were hemmed in by the pandemic and I wouldn't want to see children continue to lead highly constrained lives when that is no longer necessary, because it will deprive them of all of the variety that will help them to…, How can parents find support if they are feeling anxious about letting their children spread their wings?, I think we need to acknowledge that parents missed developmental steps too. Under normal conditions, our children branch out into the world gradually. For parents, that gradual process is part of what makes it more comfortable for us to encourage our children to exercise their independence. One thing I think a lot of parents are struggling with…
08 February 2022

5 ways to better mental health online

Being online can present lots of great opportunities to connect, learn and share what’s important to you, but it comes with challenges too. If social media or the internet has ever made you feel stressed, envious or lonely, or experience feelings of lower self‑esteem or social anxiety, know that you’re not alone. Here are five tips on how to look…, 1. Avoid doomscrolling, Pay close attention to how social media and online content is influencing your emotions, thoughts or actions. How does it make you feel? Does reading the news make you feel informed or stressed? Does seeing photos of your friends at a party make you feel good or envious? Do you check your phone first thing in the morning to learn about breaking…, 2. Be mindful, There are loads of great online tools and content that can help support all aspects of mental health and wellbeing. From meditation apps to help you relax and focus, to platforms that help you develop your sense of identity and self, stay connected and support one another. There are lots of great online learning tools where you can try something…, 3. Protect yourself and others online, Check the privacy settings on all your social media profiles. Keep webcams covered when not in use. Be careful when signing up to apps and services online – especially providing your full name, address or photo. If you are concerned about something you have seen or experienced online, you should talk to a trusted adult like a parent or teacher,…, 4. Choose kindness, Use social media for good, by sharing positive and supportive content and messages with your friends, family and classmates. For example, you could reach out to let someone know you’re thinking of them or add a positive comment on a post they shared. If you find yourself responding to a message or post with something negative, pause and consider…, 5. Stay present and connected IRL, The lines between the online and offline worlds can feel increasingly blurred, making it hard to live in the present moment and satisfy our innate need for human contact. Do you ever find yourself interrupting what you are doing so you can post it on social media, or scrolling through your friend’s stories rather than calling or meeting up to see…
08 June 2021

Strategies to Cope with Grief

1. Understand That Not Everyone Will Know How To Help You, Unfortunately, because there is a lot of misinformation out there about dealing with loss, a lot of people simply won’t know how to help you. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to get their support, just don’t be hurt or too disappointed when they are not able to give you what you need. Some of the difficulties encountered by people around…, 2. Take Responsibility For Your Recovery, In our society, we have come to believe that everyone else or events (outside of our control) are responsible for what we feel. We often make statements like “he made me so angry” or “I can’t believe she did that to me, she ruined my day.” The same lack of responsibility can apply to the grieving process. However, by making others responsible for…, 3. Accept That Your Life Will Likely Change, It is important to remember that we are forever changed by the death of someone we are very close to. Our life will be forever affected, but the good news is that grief can also produce significant psychological and spiritual growth, depending on how we handle it. We can heal from the loss and the more severe pain will fade, but it will forever…, 4. Talk About How You Feel, More important than anything else when we grieve is to be able to be open about your feelings to someone else you trust and value (or more people if we can). Healing will not and cannot occur if you keep all of your feelings inside. This may be very different for anyone who is not used to talking about emotion, but is equally as beneficial. The…, 5. Develop A Line Graph Of Your Significant Loss Experiences, Throughout your lifetime you have likely experienced a number of events that are considered losses. Take some time to write these out on a line that is based on the time in your life they occurred. For example: Dog died (1990) Moved to Edmonton (1994) Friend died (1998) Grandmother died (2003) Breakup with girlfriend (2008) Mother’s death (2010)…, 6. Write Your Loved One A Letter, Part of the reason we can get stuck in our grief is because the relationship we had with our loved one is in some way emotionally incomplete. To try and complete the relationship, it can be very helpful to communicate unacknowledged aspects of the relationship through a letter. These might include things that we have done or said, or didn’t do or…, 7. Participate In Grief Rituals, There are a number of rituals that can help you in the grieving process including the funeral or memorial service, wakes and prayer services. There are other more unique rituals that you may decide to develop such as visiting the cemetery or lighting candles on special days. These can all be healthy aspects of your grief. However, some rituals can…, 8. Find Comfort In Your Spiritual/Religious Practices, One of the great benefits of having spiritual or religious beliefs is that they can provide one with great comfort in dealing with any kind of adversity, particularly when it comes to issues such as death. Depending upon your beliefs, you may strongly feel that your loved one is going to a better place or will transcend the realities of their…, 9. Focus Your Energy On Self-Care Activities, To cope with anything that is highly emotional, particularly grief, it is essential that you focus on basic self-care activities. These include getting adequate sleep, ensuring that your diet is healthy and balanced, exercising regularly, and building fun activities into your day. When people are grieving, self-care is often neglected because…, 10. Reduce Some Of Your Expectations For Yourself, After a loss, it is very helpful to re-evaluate the expectations you place on yourself, in terms of a variety of life activities. If you are working, consider reducing your work hours for awhile. If you are taking five courses, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to take four instead. If you are used to doing a lot of volunteering, maybe this semester you…, 11. Hold Off On Making Major Life Decisions Or Changes, When you’re grieving and in a lot of emotional pain, it tends to be a bad time to make major life changes or decisions. Our ability to see issues or situations clearly is often compromised, given all the potential feels, symptoms, or reactions we may be experiencing. Letting things settle down first, if possible, can avoid potential choices that…, 12. Allow Yourself Any Potential Happiness, Although the overriding feeling of grief usually involves sadness, as the days, weeks and months progress, you may have moments or periods of happiness again. Don’t feel guilty when you do. You don’t need to feel bad all the time to honor the deceased. In fact, there is a very good chance that they would want you to start to enjoy life again.…, 13. Understand The Likely Impact Of Anniversaries, Birthdays, Holidays, and Milestones, Major events such as anniversaries, birthdays or holidays have a way of intensifying our feelings and memories of our loved ones who have died. Memories of past celebrations naturally have a way of reminding us even more vividly of what we have lost. Since these tend to be days where we have spent time in the past with our loved ones, we realize…, 14. Honor Your Loved One In Some Creative Or Meaningful Way, Expressing yourself in a creative way may be a very important part of your healing journey. The type of expression this could take might vary significantly based on what you feel might be personally meaningful. It might involve creating some type of artwork, whether this be a picture or sculpture of some kind. You also might want to meet with…, 15. Spend Some Time On Your Own If You Need It, Alone time may be an essential part of your healing journey. Death has a way of getting us to reflect on all the things we know and value. It gets you to question your own mortality and sense of life meaning and life goals. This process may require some real reflection on your part, which sometimes can only be done on your own.  , 16. Be Patient With Your Grief, Realize that dealing with a loss is neither easy nor entirely predictable, and the length of the grieving process is hard to estimate. Depending on the many factors previously outlined in this handout, the length of the grief you experience could be weeks, months or years. Trying to speed through the process is unlikely to be helpful and may…, 17. Seek Professional Help, If your grief feels like it is just too much for you to handle, don’t be afraid to ask for some professional assistance or support. This might be through your school counselor or a psychologist. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness, and anyone can struggle with the overwhelming experience of grief.   UNICEF assessed the extent of…
08 June 2021

Coping with Grief and Loss and How It Affects our Mind and Bodies

Grief can occur from a variety of losses, not just the loss of a loved one. Other losses might include: moving away from your home town or city, changing or losing a job, a relationship break-up, separation or divorce, loss of a close friendship, your parents divorcing, the death of a pet, a miscarriage or abortion, a major change in your health.…, Myth: Just ignore or bury the pain and it will go away in time., Fact: We move fastest through the pain of loss by acknowledging and experiencing it., Myth: Time alone will heal all wounds, including grief., Fact: Time doesn’t necessarily move us through the grieving process. It is what we do in this time that matters., Myth: Being strong (especially for others) is the best way to get through grief., Fact: Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and in touch with our emotions allows us to move through the grief process., Myth: It is best to grieve alone., Fact: The support of others can greatly facilitate the grieving process. Myth: If you lose something or someone, just replace the loss and everything will be fine. Fact: Many losses can’t simply be replaced, especially when it comes to relationships or people., Myth: The best way to cope with a loss is to just keep busy., Fact: It is most helpful to give yourself time to grieve, even if this means scheduling a time on a daily or weekly basis., Myth: Grieving usually takes about a year., Fact: There are many factors that affect the grieving process, and the time frame varies significantly., Myth: If you are not crying, you don’t care about the person who died, or the loss you endured., Fact: There are many responses to a loss and crying is only one of these, Myth: Grief appears in predictable stages that occur in the same order., Fact: New models of grief challenge the stage model, and see grief as involving numerous feelings and reactions that come and go like waves on an ocean., Myth: The goal of grieving is to “get over” or “let go” of the person who has died., Fact: Healthy grieving is more about how to stay connected to the person who has died and to learn how to integrate the loss into one’s life so you can move forward., Myth: Expressing tears is a sign of weakness., Fact: Tears are a healthy expression of your loss and serve the function of releasing our body’s tension and emotion. Lastly, consider seeing a professional if symptoms of grief are so severe that: You are having trouble functioning at home, work or school It is affecting your relationships Symptoms are not getting better despite several weeks or…