March 24, 2020
Isolation and mental health: How to explain it to children?
Just over a week has passed since the mandatory social isolation began throughout the country. As school, university, and institute classes have been postponed, and the entertainment and recreation centers closed, children, adolescents, and young people have put their social development on pause and now they spend 24 hours a day at home, with their family.
Although this coexistence at home seems natural, for many people these circumstances can lead to emotional imbalance, since – depending on their age – children and adolescents are used to different routines and experiences not linked, mostly, to the members of their family.
For the youngest children, the reaction can be positive since the relationship with parents is still very strong. For Psychologist Antonella Galli of the Clínica Ricardo Palma, this time should be used to know them even more, reinforcing parent-child ties: “The fact that children feel more accompanied by parents, who are usually working, greatly strengthens their spirits. It is a good time to observe them and realize their likes, interests, aptitudes, and attitudes. Enjoy having good conversations and healthy fun to go along with these interests.”
It also invites the family to have assertive conversations about the situation we are living, since, after all, we are not on vacations, but we are taking an important measure to prevent the spread of a disease that has taken the world by surprise.
“It is important that the information we receive as adults is translated in the best way for our children, solving their questions and curiosities. And if they do not have questions, it is not about to say nothing, but on the contrary, parents should put it up for discussion seriously, responsibly and, above all, hopefully, since it is the most important thing for them to preserve the balance, and reduce anxiety and fear levels”, says Clinical Psychologist Maria Elena Basauri.
Anxiety and depression
Peaks of anxiety will be one of the most common experiences for all family members during this quarantine. Especially for those who already had this pathology before this measure began. “People who go through anxiety and depression issues are often a little bit more negative and catastrophic. For this reason, isolation will intensify their negative emotions by distorting their thinking about events”, explains Ms. Antonella Galli.
For young people and children with anxiety problems, it is important to establish a good family communication. Sit down to talk about worries, always calmly, and without minimizing feelings. “Debate your negative beliefs with rational evidence as many times as possible, always breathing and keeping calm”, adds Ms. Galli.
For people who have depression, it is advisable to respect the prescribed medication (if any), and do their best to continue with online counseling by their Psychologist or Psychiatrist. The family can support by keeping their minds always busy, inviting them to do exercises or dancing to relax and release accumulated energy, and doing meditation before going to bed. Also, getting away from the cell phone at least two hours before going to bed, to calm the mind and be able to rest.
Lic. Antonella Galli
Psychologist at Clínica Ricardo Palma