Helpful Tips for Your Family’s Mental Health and Well-Being
By: Haven Evans

As we welcome July and the summer weather, we’re reminded of how our lives have drastically changed in so many ways in a matter of a few months as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 40 million Americans have lost their jobs, food insecurity is a real concern for many, parents are homeschooling their kids, many business are struggling. The days of just spontaneously getting in your car and taking your kids to the movies or an amusement park are on hold. The lack of interaction and physical contact with your loved ones, friends, and colleagues due to social distancing may at times for many, be too much to manage.

Additionally, more than 134,000 Americans have tragically passed away due to the coronavirus and that is a stark and startling number. It’s hard to process and comprehend that in just a matter of three months many of our fellow citizens have passed way. Experts are estimating that 1 in every 7 Americans knows someone who has passed away as a result of COVID-19. If you have lost a loved one our friend as a result of this virus, please know that our heartfelt thoughts and sympathies are with you. And, even if you have not lost anyone to this virus, you’re still being inundated with information and stories splashed on the news about COVID that can be overwhelming to process, especially for individuals who may be navigating anxiety or depression.

The mental health and well-being of yourself and your family is incredibly important. There are a number of things that you can do to look after yourself, your family, and help others in your life who may need extra support and care right now.

Stay Informed: Listen to advice and recommendations from your national, state, and local authorities and medical personnel.

Minimize the News: Limit the intake of how much you watch or read. While the job of the news media is to keep the public informed, due to 24/7 cable news, you could find yourself glued to the television or computer watching stories on COVID. This can cause you to feel anxious or distressed, so limit your intake to.

Stay in contact with family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors: Just because we are all practicing social distancing, does not mean that you still can’t be social. Pick up the phone and call a friend, or FaceTime a loved one. It’s important to stay connected.

Find Free, Safe Family-Friendly Activities: Design a scavenger hunt in your own home, watch a funny movie, try out a new recipe, plant some flowers, have a Zoom meeting or FaceTime your family members and friendly, and take a walk around your neighborhood.

Make sure your children have time away from their computers, television, iPads, and cell phones: It’s important for children to have time to play outdoors, draw a picture, play with Legos and dolls, sing, dance, or build something. They need time, especially right now, to just have fun.

Reach Out for Support: Here at PFSA, we are firm believers that where there is help, there is hope. So please, never be afraid to ask for help if you or a loved has a mental health concern or needs to talk to someone. There are trained, clinical therapists and counselors in your area who can help you navigate the challenge you may be facing. For support and referral help, you can call PA’s mental health helpline at 855-284-2494.

By Jill Whitmyer

We are in the midst of a public health emergency—it’s truly an unprecedented time and many children, adults, and families don’t know where to turn to for guidance and support. The coronavirus is becoming a part of our everyday lives as Americans have been glued to the news as updates unfold on a daily basis. Suddenly terms like pandemic, social distancing, and sheltering-in-place have become household norms.

During this time of adjustment, there are MANY resources available for families to learn how to help cope with what’s going on around them right now. Even as an adult, this can be a scary time.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, yet with so many families’ daily routines being disrupted or coming to a near halt, we expect incidents of abuse and neglect to be much higher than what reports will suggest. This is of utmost concern to our organization and child welfare professionals across the commonwealth.

School closures result in children being socially isolated. This could mean that they are stuck at home with the individual(s) who is perpetrating the abuse. Teachers are most often the individuals who report suspected child abuse cases because students are in their care nearly 8 hours a day for 9 months. Unfortunately, with children being socially isolated, there are fewer individuals checking in on them. We strongly encourage you to call ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313 if you think that a child is being neglected or abused. Please know that even with the pandemic, suspected cases of child abuse and neglect are being investigated. Child Welfare offices in each of our state’s 67 counties are still operating and serving the needs of children and families.

To help families and caregivers cope with the mental, physical, and emotional aspects of coronavirus, we pulled together a number of resources for dealing with COVID-19. These resources provide insight on how to deal with stress and mental health, as well as how to talk to children about the COVID-19 pandemic. We have even posted a few resources that detail fun, indoor activities that you can do with your children while you are sheltering-in-place at home!

We encourage you to use the collection of free resources we’ve put together on our website, so that you and your family can navigate the issues that have arisen as a result of this pandemic. Together we can protect the health and wellbeing of Pennsylvania’s children.

We’re wishing you and your family good health and peace of mind during this challenging time.

Best,

Kayla Kressler
Chief Operating Officer
Pa Family Support Alliance