Coping with Crisis During Children's Mental Health Awareness Month
5th May 2020
As weeks of stay-at-home orders pass and parents assume new, more challenging responsibilities as full-time caregivers, teachers, and playmates, it’s not unusual to feel mounting stress. Our partners at The Kempe Center say it’s just as important for parents to recognize and acknowledge their mental health as the well being of their children. The following steps can help parents to bring a sense of calm into those stressful times that are a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
“One of the first things you should do is take a breath,” says Dr. Evelin Gomez, Assistant Professor, UC Anschutz campus, The Kempe Center. Take a moment to recognize and identify how you are feeling, whether that’s worried, overwhelmed, angry, or something else entirely. Gomez says it’s completely normal and understandable to feel these emotions. Working from home, homeschooling and caring for ourselves and our families, and doing everything well - it's a lot to manage. Dr. Ashley Brock-Baca with the Colorado Department of Human Services, Office of Behavioral Health says parents shouldn’t automatically look for the silver lining and ignore their stress, but they should try to find moments of gratitude and positive feelings. “Maybe it's as simple as being thankful that your family is healthy, or that you have more time with your children, or more time to take walks outside or work in the yard,” Brock-Baca says.
Please, parents, give yourself some compassion. In the moments when you are overwhelmed, you can say to yourself "right now, it's like this." Accept how you feel, that you will be okay, and that like anything, it's not going to last forever.
“Do something you enjoy, even if it’s only for a short time - make yourself a cup of your favorite tea, go for a walk, or find an online fitness class,” Gomez says. Moving your body and feeling a sense of community, even virtually, is a great way to calm yourself and lift your spirits.
Do what you have to do to take care of yourself - and know you don’t have to be perfect right now. For tips on how to help your child cope with the public health crisis, watch this short video created by COACT Colorado and its partners, Children's Hospital Colorado, The Kempe Center, and Partners for Children's Mental Health. And if you continue to feel overwhelmed, know that helpful resources exist for parents and caregivers. Click here to know the signs that you may be experiencing mental health distress. And in Colorado, confidential, one-on-one support is available 24/7 through the Colorado Crisis Services hotline at 1-844-493-TALK, or by texting “TALK” to 38255.