How COVID-19 is impacting youth’s mental health

By | May 20, 2020

WINNIPEG — The COVID-19 pandemic has largely affected Manitobans’ daily lives, as well as the lives of their children.

With the school year being cancelled, and many summer camps closing, kids are left with little to do, and different routines.

Some are asking if the pandemic will have a lasting impact on the mental health of youth.

Stephen Sutherland, manager of Youth Mental Health Promotion at Canadian Mental Health Association (CHMA) Manitoba and Winnipeg, said routine is an important part of a child’s life.

“For a lot of young people this has been very traumatic,” said Sutherland. “I think of young people who have not gone to their grade eight graduation, or someone not attending their high school graduation – that disruption.”

Sutherland said good mental health habits start in the home. He said parents need to be an example for their children. If parents aren’t taking care of their mental health during COVID-19, he said it’s likely their children won’t either.

He said it’s important parents talk with their kids about the positive and negative events that happen in our lives; he calls them the apples and onions.

“What are the apples of the day? What are the beautiful things that have happened?” said Sutherland.

“What are the onions? What are the things that were really difficult?”

“The more we talk about those things, the trajectory of what the future’s going to look like for kids is going to look a lot different.”

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer, said the province is looking at how the pandemic is impacting Manitobans of all ages.

“Some of these (impacts) are going to be difficult to measure cause they might be long term effects,” said Roussin.

“I think there’s probably work (being) done in multiple jurisdictions in multiple levels trying to look at some of these unintended consequences.”

He said there are a lot of factors that go into people’s health, but the isolation measures that were taken to flatten the curve of COVID-19 were required.

On Thursday, May 21, CMHA Manitoba and Winnipeg is hosting a Virtual Youth Town Hall for students grade 10 to 12, to give them an opportunity to share ideas about mental health.

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