Talking to Children and Youth About COVID-19

Talking to Children and Youth About COVID-19
Posted on 04/03/2020

Talking to Children and Youth
In one way or another, we have all been affected by the news of the COVID-19 pandemic. Each day seems to bring something that changes the landscape.

As caring adults in students’ lives, we can help young people by being a steady calming influence, providing developmentally-appropriate and factual information about our local situation, and helping students to feel some level of control. Fostering supportive relationships with caring adults and encouraging children to talk about their feelings can greatly benefit a child who may be feeling distress.

 General Principals:

  • Remain calm
  • Consider the time, place and environment when beginning a discussion with a child
  • Build trust by discussing what children are already doing well
  • Stay neutral, non judgmental and avoid conversations that lead to blame or social stigma
  • Be honest and accurate when providing information
    Listen and observe to understand what may be concerning or causing anxiety for your child
  • Encourage children to continue to share their feelings and concerns
  • Limit screen time and spend time together as a family
  • End discussions on a positive note, emphasizing resiliency and positive outcomes

Creating a calm environment for children is a crucial part of managing feelings of anxiety or uncertainty. Taking care of your own well-being and health is an essential part of taking care of the needs of children. Parents and caregivers should ensure they are eating well, exercising and staying connected to their communities to talk about any feelings that may be overwhelming or causing distress. 

Ask for Help
Ask for help from a mental health professional if you feel unable to cope. Our Mental Health team at Nipissing-Parry Sound Catholic District School Board is offering Mental Health Check-Ins for parents and students via email. Emails will be monitored by mental health professionals between 8:30am and 4:30pm, Monday-Friday, and are not designed to respond as a 24 hour crisis or emergency service.

Contact tessierp@npsc.ca to access this service or for more information.

In Case of Emergency:
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health or substance use emergency, call 9-1-1 or go to the emergency room of your local hospital. Even in these unusual times, it is important to get the immediate help that you need. There are people ready and available to help.

If you are not sure if it is an emergency, or just need to talk through the situation, consider reaching out to Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000.

The Hands Crisis Line is available at 1-844-287-9072. 

Hands counselling services are available by phone or online. You can book appointments through the main number: 705‐476‐2293, toll free 1‐800‐668‐8555 or email: INFO@HANDSTFHN.CA.

For youth 16 years and older, the Mobile Crisis North Bay City Police and North Bay Regional Health Centre is operating regular hours Monday-Friday 8-6 available through the non-emergency line of the police service 705-497-5555.

Connex Ontario is a central database for services available at Connexontario.ca or by telephone 1-866-531-2600.

Children and teens can speak with a counsellor 24/7 by calling Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868 or texting CONNECT to 686868.

Resources for Secondary Students
Our Mental Health team at SJSH has created a mental health group on Edsby that is open to all secondary students and parents to access well-being information to support student mental health during this pandemic. This group contains a calendar of events with resources and daily activities and supports.

The Mental Health Edsby page also has links to online Drop-In Wellness Hubs for SJSH students looking to speak with School Social Workers. 

For more information or if you have questions or concerns, please contact tessierp@npsc.ca

Additional Resources: