As we enter our fourth week of lockdown in the UK, managing children’s anxiety about Coronavirus is more important than ever. Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental health problems identified in children. Estimates of the rates of prevalence vary greatly from 8% to 27% lifetime prevalence by age 18.
Chronic anxiety disorders are associated with increased risk of other serious mental health problems in later life.
Fears and worries are a normal part of child development and the content of fears will change according to the individual’s developmental stage. Anxiety disorders occur when the intensity of the fear or worry is so high that it starts to impact on the child’s functioning and well-being.
The Coronavirus outbreak and subsequent lockdown of the UK, including closure of schools, shops and restaurants, has affected us all. As adults, we may be suffering from our own anxieties related to the pandemic. Children may not have the understanding, context or tools to express their feelings and fears about the situation. Therefore, it’s important that we, as adults, are equipped to listen, understand, empathise and reassure children if we spot any signs of anxiety or distress.
Seeking help for children’s anxiety about Coronavirus:
You may not need to refer immediately to a healthcare professional if the anxiety is mild.
Instead, keep an eye on the child and offer support, reassurance and comfort. If the symptoms persist or grow worse, contact your GP to discuss whether a referral to a mental health professional would be beneficial.
Here are a few resources that can help children who are suffering from anxiety about Coronavirus, and those with more generalised anxiety disorders.
About Nip in the Bud:
Our films illustrate the behaviours common in different mental health conditions in children, along with explanations and information on how to follow up and get help.