We’ve pulled together tips and information from mental health experts about the gradual transition to eased restrictions
Author: VicHealth, a Victorian Government Agency that works with experts, evidence and research in health promotion
Any coronavirus information mentioned is accurate at the time this article was first published (8 June 2020). For the most up-to-date information about coronavirus restrictions, please visit the source: www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au
Kids and parents will be wondering what ‘normal’ life is going to be like now that restrictions are easing.
You might be asking yourselves, is it normal to feel stressed or anxious about restrictions easing, like you did when restrictions started?
The answer is yes, and mental health and wellbeing experts are talking about it.
Eased restrictions might come with mixed feelings
Headspace, Australia's National Youth Mental Health Foundation, posted on social media about the mixed feeling kids might have as restrictions ease.
“Life has changed for all of us due to COVID-19 restrictions. Many are starting to think about how life will change when restrictions ease. Some people have enjoyed these changes, others have found it challenging and many of us will have experienced a mixture of these things. While some people are looking forward to this, it doesn’t mean the next few weeks or months will be smooth sailing for everyone.”
SANE Australia, a national mental health charity, shared the same sentiment: “Yes, the chance to finally see a close friend might fill us with joy – of course it does! But the thought of venturing out into the world again? That can feel scary!”.
So as the experts agree, your kids may be feeling uneasy about adjusting to eased restrictions.
Below are their top tips on managing the transition.
Three tips from mental health experts to support kids as restrictions ease
Tip one: Embrace the back-to-school routine with positivity and encouragement
Beyond Blue, one of Australia’s leading mental health organisations, has shared tips for parents with school-aged kids. These tips from child and adolescent psychiatrist Professor Brett McDermott, focus on supporting kids’ transition back to school, including getting back into a routine, highlighting the positives and telling them you’re confident in them.
Kids Helpline, a free, 24-hour counselling service, has created a guide to supporting your child to go back to ‘normal’ after COVID-19.
Tip two: maintain the positive habits you started at home
At the onset of the coronavirus many families prioritised looking after their kids’ mental health and wellbeing at home.
Perhaps you did this by encouraging your child’s creativity, keeping them busy with activities, or following the tips we shared to support your teenager’s mental wellbeing.
If you took steps to support your family’s mental health and wellbeing, along with eating healthy food and exercising during coronavirus restrictions, keep going with the positive habits you started at home.
Tip three: use strategies to manage feelings of stress or anxiety
ReachOut, another online mental health organisation for young people and their parents, shares 7 tips to help with stress and anxiety, including talking about how you feel, focusing on the present moment, taking some time out, monitoring your thoughts over time, and challenging them.
UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, also provides information and advice on returning to the new ‘normal’.
In the below video you can also hear from experts at Headspace, a youth mental health organisation with information for young people and parents. In the video they explain the signs to look out for if you’re concerned your child might be experiencing anxiety, and suggestions on how to support them or seek help.
Remember, as restrictions ease, the experts agree that it might not all be smooth sailing. Try and remember these three tips to support your kids during the transition:
- Embrace the back-to-school routine with positivity and encouragement
- Maintain the positive habits you started at home
- Use strategies to manage feelings of stress or anxiety
Have a coronavirus question?
For all coronavirus questions visit www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au or call the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) hotline on 1800 020 080.