With COVID-19 forcing children to abandon their norms and take classes online, miss out on sports and extracurriculars, and experience the fear and negativity that surrounds a pandemic, changes in their psyche are all but inevitable. Managing childhood trauma and mental health is no easy task in a world with counselors and teachers, and now that summer “vacation” has started, those resources are even more difficult to come by.
Luckily, akin to the homeschool classrooms and books, there are also many web-based mental health resources for youngsters to utilize in this unprecedented and mentally draining time.
Symptoms and Signs
Before finding resources to help, parents need to first establish that an issue exists. According to the National Institute of Health, the changes in psychosocial environments have “the potential to threaten the mental health of children and adolescents significantly” and parents should be on high alert, as childhood trauma can cause mental health issues for a lifetime.
Changes in eating and sleeping habits are the two easiest to notice, aside from your youngster speaking up. Increased aggression and irritability are also two tell-tale signs of trauma, as well as noticeable feelings of sadness and anxiety. If you notice any or all of these changes, talking to your child is the first step, and online resources for Mom and Dad are aplenty. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network has a library of fact sheets to help parents spark their discussion, and many other nonprofit organizations offer guides and resources to help parents help their children.
As telehealth continues to be the first step in corona-age healthcare, you’d probably be talking to a computer screen regardless of whether or not you make an appointment at your local hospital. With that, there are many online services that exist for evaluation and treatment of youngsters experiencing trauma, and many of them offer free consultation and a lot more flexibility than your community center.
Doctor on Demand is a popular hub of mental health professionals, and all of their licensed psychiatrists and therapists offer flexible scheduling to set up web-based sessions at the patients’ convenience. They provide first-time visitors with a short test to determine their needs, and then provide a long list of therapists who specialize in treating whatever it is the test determines.
Once the issues and treatment are determined, it is important to make sure your child is comfortable and confident with their care providers. There is a slew of online therapy services, and some of the ones that stick out for children are Talkspace, TeenCounseling, and 7 Cups.
Talkspace is great because it is an almost-constant contact with a therapist via text chat, where your kids can reach out any time of the day or night and expect a response very quickly. TeenCounseling is similar, with constant chats as an option, but they also allow for video conferencing, live chats, and phone calls to ensure your child is getting the attention he or she needs. 7 Cups is more of a peer support service, but it’s free! They have volunteer “trained listeners” who are there to serve as therapists and who know when issues are beyond their training and can help guide your youngster to proper care.
Though not online, your kids can still help treat their own mental issues with a number of at-home mental health exercises. The big issue with COVID-19 is the polarization of it in the news. Simply turning off the TV and reinforcing that a vaccine is coming and this will all be over soon can prevent the feelings from causing lifelong issues. Other at home remedies include practicing meditation, reading, and finding things to make your kids laugh and keep their minds away from the traumatic events.
Telehealth was nothing new when COVID-19 changed everything, but it’s necessity and success can save both patients and hospitals money. In an age when robot nurses and AI healthcare are legitimate trends in the industry, having your child experience online mental healthcare early is a nice silver lining, as it will be one less change to overcome when online counseling becomes the norm, rather than just an option.