COVID-19 and Emotional Wellbeing in Children
“If you fail, never give up because F.A.I.L. means “first Attempt in Learning”; End is not the end, in fact E.N.D. means “Effort Never Dies”; If you get No as an answer, remember N.O. means “Next Opportunity” So Let’s be positive. “Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam of feel LIFE”
This week we prepare for our upcoming Prescribing Update on Saturday 26 September 2020. The morning session covers minor illnesses and the current prescribing guidelines. I was recently listening with interest as a child questioned her mum why they couldn’t see their grammie. I felt especially sad when the child asked “Does grammie not love me anymore” Simple words from an innocent mind perplexed by current events and not being able to visit ‘grammie’ The pandemic has had a massive impact on our emotional and mental wellbeing. The sense of loss is not only from jobs, freedom of movement, death family members or friends. There is a deep sense of loss, a sort of helplessness when an invisible enemy seems everywhere and nowhere at the same time.
This encouraged me to add a Paediatric session to our prescribing update to ensure that we ‘don’t forget the children’. But, it has also reminded me that just looking at medication and prescribing is not enough. We do need to be more alert of the impact on the emotional and mental wellbeing on children.
There are lots of free information and discussions available. I recently came across a book aimed primarily at children aged 6-11 years old – a project of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Reference Group on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings, a unique collaboration of United Nations agencies, national and international nongovernmental organizations and international agencies providing mental health and psychosocial support in emergency settings..
I listened to the audio version about a fantasy creature, Ario, “My Hero is You, How kids can fight COVID-19!” which explains how children can protect themselves, their families and friends from coronavirus and how to manage difficult emotions when confronted with a new and rapidly changing reality. Both versions are available on WHO site.
This is an audio version
This is the book version
The site had some interesting videos on washing hands – nothing quite like Pepper pig talking about the importance of handwashing. Oh, how I remember the days of watching reruns of Pepper Pig with my niece and nephew. I would therefore recommend using current resources out there to support families and children.
During recent clinics I have referred children to child psychologists which in itself is interesting as I am usually focussed on managing physical symptoms and finding a cure. Recent events and the COVID19 pandemic has made me stop a while longer and question a bit more. I recognise that the NHS has an extra ordinary job in managing the symptomatic patient with COVID19. Now more than ever, we should not forget the children which is why Belmatt Healthcare Training has developed, in consultation with Birmingham and Sandwells Safeguarding team and the RCPCH, a Telephone Triage and Safeguarding Children course. We are also fortunate to have consultant psychiatrist delivering webinars on Mental Wellbeing in children and our very experienced paediatric consultant will be delivering sessions on children and the relationship between physical and psychosocial symptoms. We are hoping to support clinicians to identify possible physical and mental abuse in children but most importantly, support children who are confused and trying to understand what is happening. In many cases they have presented with physical symptoms, yet a short chat and some mild probing has identified the underlying emotional distress they are going through.
Our role as clinicians, now more than ever, is to be vigilant and look for signs of the distressed child and parent and support them in the best way we can. There are numerous local resources available to support families and we should ensure we are aware of them.
In the words of Christopher Robin (I must admit watching the movie 3 times) “You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” ~Christopher Robin (A.A. Milne). We should never stop reminding each other and service users.
And one last quote from my favourite movie:
“What day is it?”, asked Winnie the Pooh “It’s today,” squeaked Piglet “My favourite day,” said Pooh”
Let’s make today our favourite day for today is every day.