The Impact of Covid-19 on children's mental health

The COVID-19 pandemic echoed drastic, devastating changes throughout the world. Particularly affected were children, who were forced to navigate unprecedented hardships, from remote learning, to isolation, to fear of catching the virus. Keep reading to learn about the impact of COVID-19 on children’s mental health, and some ways parents, schools, and society can minimize detriment among children during these unprecedented times.

Serena Chen

This past year, the entire world has undergone a crisis like never before: a cataclysmic pandemic. COVID-19 left the world in shambles; no one was prepared for such an atrocity, and millions struggled to cope with the damage that the virus had dealt to the workforce, the economy, and everyday life. The physical health of the world’s population was prioritized above all, resulting in a quarantine that took a heavy toll on their mental health. Children in particular found themselves stranded in the unfamiliar territory of remote learning without any assistance, as many of their parents were struggling with employment and health.

What effect does the pandemic really have on children and their mental health? According to a study published by NCBI, the impact varied depending on each age group, though there was a general fear that the children or their loved ones would catch the virus. With lockdowns in effect, clinginess and separation issues also occurred. For children/adolescents that attended school, the pandemic drastically affected their daily routines. Socialization decreased sharply and students were forced to adapt to a completely different way of learning that prevented them from interacting with one another and properly retaining the information they were taught. Previously earnest students would resort to cheating and other academic integrity violations in order to complete their assignments and exams, which stemmed from either laziness or suffering from mental illnesses. They felt trapped and helpless, lacking an adult that they could turn to for support, so instead they ignored the problem and tried to move around it. Remote school also resulted in near constant internet use, which can lead to increased vulnerability to bullying or harassment.

In order to help future generations, mental health awareness must be made more prevalent. This can be achieved through annual presentations to students, mental health days, or more discussions about it in the classroom. Children may not understand their emotions and how to respond to them, so making mental health information and resources more available to them would be incredibly beneficial. Since many resources such as counseling, the SAMHSA’s helpline, and nonprofit organizations are often unknown to students, teachers can make these more accessible and familiar to their students, as well as promote guidance counselors and a comfortable classroom environment. Positive parenting is also crucial when it comes to a child’s mental health; interactive activities with younger kids, promoting healthy coping mechanisms, and practicing family communication all create a stable and safe environment for a child to thrive and feel comfortable in, especially in these uncertain times.

Mental health issues continue to bear a great impact on children, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic. With all this isolation, brought more clinginess, a completely different routine everyone had to adapt to, an increase in internet use, and many more effects. These problems have been put into the shadows for too long and we should use this time to really bring awareness and educate kids so they understand how they’re feeling. And to parents, to create a more comfortable environment for their children and overall positive parenting.