We spoke to Nicola Palfrey, Director at Australian Child and Adolescent Trauma, Loss and Grief Network at ANU Medical School, about some of the potential stresses young people may still be feeling and how best to deal with them.
1. Australian children and young people have faced multiple crises this year – drought, bushfires, flooding, COVID-19. What signs should children and young people be looking for to know when they might need to seek extra support with their mental health and wellbeing?
If young people are noticing that they are feeling ‘more’ than usual (more anxious or worried, sad or down) and these things aren’t changing over time, then it might be a good idea to let someone know. Your parent, or a teacher you get on well with is a good place to start.
It is really important that we all take some time to look after ourselves. We know we need enough good food, rest and exercise to keep our physical health on track, but these things are just as important for our mental health. Also, taking some time for fun and relaxation is really important, particularly when there is so much bad news and worry all around.
2. What have been some of the biggest mental health challenges you have heard of during the coronavirus pandemic?
I think worry and loneliness have been big challenges. People feeling isolated and disconnected from the people and things that usually bring them joy. We have seen lots of really innovative ways that people have tried to overcome this, from online birthday parties, to art and music being shared remotely, to all the acts of kindness being celebrated. Hearing and seeing these acts have helped people keep their spirits up.