For many people the challenges during the coronavirus pandemic have impacted on wellbeing, the consequence of isolation, lockdowns, and restrictive measures. While these measures are necessary for controlling the pandemic they can take their toll on the mental health of many individuals.
In addition, Matthew Segal tells Digital Journal that the Omicron variant places further strain on 1.2 million Canadian youth affected by mental illness.
Segal created the service Charlie Wellbeing. This is Canada’s first mental health plan to provide teens with 24/7 confidential access to licensed therapists and psychologists via text, voice and video.
Segal provides some important tips for parents to help address their teen’s mental health over the coming months. He notes: “Pandemic-related restrictions, such as restrictions on gatherings can exacerbate their mental health issues, which in turn can negatively affect the mental health of other family members.”
Segal adds: “Canadian teens are already dealing with a wide range of challenging issues such as anxiety, substance abuse, school conflicts, emotional regulation, identity formation, sexuality, gender issues, bullying, and more, and now the Omicron variant is turning their world turned upside down yet again.”
Segal says that among the key warning signs parents should watch out for include their child being withdrawn, sleeping too much, communicating less, increasing their time spent on social media, not being home as much, not sleeping enough or having abnormal sleep patterns.
In terms of key parental tips, Segal recommends:
- Talk to your children about internet and smartphone safety, especially if they are getting a new device for the holidays.
- Practice healthy sleeping habits, such as no screens right before bed and having consistent bedtimes and wake times.
- Pay attention to your child’s mood fluctuations and be there to listen.
- Ask your children for details about their plans to ensure they are being safe.
- Help your children practice relaxation techniques (e.g., Breathing work and meditation).
- Identify physical activities your children enjoy, such as bike riding, hiking or soccer, and build these into your family routine.
- Focus on strengths and build on those.
- Spend time doing what your children love (listening to music, doing art, hanging out, playing a sport).
- Invite your children to help with tasks like dinner prep so you can use the time to chat about their day, or just listen, as sometimes they just need a sounding board.
- Be available to listen and resist the urge to jump to conclusions or solutions when speaking with them.
Such advice assists with emotional well-being, psychological well-being, social well-being, among young people and their parents and guardians.