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Monday, January 30, 2023
HomeHealthCombating the Effects of Social Isolation in Children

Combating the Effects of Social Isolation in Children

Kids have big worries in the best of times. Right now as uncertainties dominate our everyday lives, kids’ worries and stress levels are escalating.

Parents are worrying, too, about their jobs, their health, their finances and their kids’ well being. So how do we help our kids through these stressful times? Whether you’ve got a first-grader worried about getting sick from the coronavirus, an eleven-year-old missing their friends at school, or a high school student stressing about exams and missing the end of the school year, kids of all ages are feeling the pressure as much as the adults.

So we reached out to Oasis: The Center for Mental Health to chat about how kids are feeling right now, and spoke with Licensed clinical professional counselor Lauren Pantoulis for advice on handling kids’ worries. Watch the video here and check in below for helpful tips from Oasis professionals.

From Oasis professionals LCPC Lauren Pantoulis and CRNP Jim Perrett:

Social isolation and the effect on children

From Lauren Pantoulis

  • Definitely a slippery slope towards depression, especially now being weeks into quarantine.
  • I think people are starting to feel less creative and getting more “stuck” in doing the same thing day after day. 
  • Many children are feeling angry about not being able to see friends, so setting up social outlets online is very important.

From Jim Perritt, CRNP

  • Keep to a schedule. Everything that I’ve seen, as suggested by people who have experienced isolation before, always says to keep to a schedule. People like astronauts, submariners, and scientists who have had to be isolated due to experiments all say keeping to the schedule helps.
  • Engage in a hobby. 
  • Take care of something other than yourself. This could be a pet, plant, or even something like bread yeast.
  • Connect with people through FaceTime, zoom meetings, Skype, or something else like that. Social distancing does not have to equate with social isolation. It’s also a good time to contact people with whom you have fallen out of touch. This can be done with a phone call, email, or text message.
  • Engage in some sort of physical exercise, preferably scheduled physical exercise.

On stress about grades/achieving

From Lauren Pantoulis

  • A lot of kids are afraid that they aren’t going to be able to learn without a teacher teaching them. 
  • They also are concerned that they may have forgotten things since being in school. 
  • Kids currently are confused about what it expected with the switch to online learning and how it will work.

On stress from now having parents as teachers

From Lauren Pantoulis

  • Surprisingly, this hasn’t come up a lot, though I know a lot of parents worry about being able to teach Common Core math (that comes up frequently)

From Jim Perritt, CRNP

Give yourself room to be imperfect. If you were supposed to be a teacher, you would be one already. We are all doing the best that we can. 

Onset or increase in depression / suicidal thoughts

  • Mostly have heard this in middle school aged students. Especially due to the isolation from friends and also they seem to be the least likely age group to be willing to leave their rooms and get outside or do something physical. 
  • Many are missing their spring sports.

From Jim Perritt, CRNP

  • Reach out to someone who can help. Oasis is a good start. Many people go through life with symptoms of depression and or anxiety. For some, it is temporary. For others, it’s a reoccurring problem. 
  • Many people do not seek treatment even though it may benefit them. Because this is a difficult adjustment for everyone, regardless of a standing illness or not, they are avenues for help (such as Oasis). 
  • Sometimes just commiserating with a supportive and nonjudgmental friend or family member can let somebody know that they’re not alone. 
  • If thoughts of suicide get to the point where there is a plan or intent, the person should contact 911. 

 Top 3 common themes/worries you are seeing in children since schools closed:

  • Lauren pts ages 6-and-up: 
  1. Worry about not going back to school this year
  2. Health of family members
  3. Boredom
  • Jim – Age 8 and above: 
  • There have been a handful of people that worry that they will get someone else sick. 
  •  I recommend looking at the CDC recommendations or WHO recommendations for the specific concern.

In what ways have you seen therapy help children/families since this started 3-4 weeks ago?

  • Believe it or not, I think therapy helps break up the boredom a bit and allows the parents and children to consider new ideas that they may not have thought of to help with the current situation. 
  • It also gives them someone to talk to that they can confide in and talk about frustrations that they may have about their current home situation and can’t discuss with parents. 
  • I also try to bring my knowledge about learning styles to them to help with ideas of how to do online learning in a way that may help with the boredom of not being in a classroom. 
  • Also, as a therapist, sometimes my suggesting that a child try something “carries more weight” and they may be willing to do some things, like daily exercise or getting out of their room for certain periods of time that they aren’t willing to try otherwise.

From Jim Perritt, CRNP

  • My focus is on medication.
  •  I do endorse therapy with all of my patients.
  •  In therapy they can have a non-judge mental and supportive area in which they can express their concerns and thoughts. 
  • They could be given tools on how to manage some of those concerns and thoughts. 
  • At the very least therapy will give the patient the ability/setting in which they can express themselves.

Parents looking for help:

  • Follow @OasisAnnapolis on Facebook/Instagram for daily posts with information and resources on how to cope with stressors and/or take an online assessment (ages 13-&-up) and make an appointment for telehealth appt. 
  • Providers see patients 6 days a week, Mon–Fri 8:30 a.m.–10 p.m.; Saturdays 9 a.m.–4 p.m.


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