The Mental Health Impact of COVID-19 on Families

Photo of African American family smiling while making sandwiches together in the kitchm representing how helpful family counselign for anxiety in Illinois during Covid-19 was.

If you had asked yourself a year ago what life would look like in 2020, it’s doubtful you would have guessed we’d be going through a global pandemic with lockdowns and self-quarantining.

Perhaps in the beginning, some families might have thought being forced to stay home from work and school would feel like a mini vacation. But as the weeks and months have passed, we’ve all learned that this has been anything but a vacation.

So how exactly is COVID affecting families? Well, it affects parents, kids and spouses a little differently.

How Covid-19 Affects Kids

Kids haven’t enjoyed the time off nearly as much as we initially thought they would. Disruption to normal routines has caused many kids and teens to struggle with anxiety. Isolating and being away from friends has also left them feeling depressed.

Summer vacation this year wasn’t nearly as fun since travel was next to impossible for some families in certain states. Sports teams were canceled, and boredom set in for many kids.

The pandemic has also negatively impacted those already suffering from mental health or developmental issues. For some of these kids, a disruption in routine combined with cancellation of speech, occupational or physical therapy sessions has stalled their progress and caused anxiety.

And now with some schools open and others offering online classes, life has still not returned to normal and many kids are simply not able to deal with this crisis any longer.

How Covid-19 Affects Parents

No doubt, parents have been hit hard too by the pandemic. With forced school closures, many parents have had to learn how to home school while also getting used to the “new normal” of working from home.

As if that weren’t enough, parents have also had to become mental health experts, helping their children navigate through the fear, anxiety and depression they’re experiencing. With limited time, resources and often patience, COVID has taken a toll on worn out parents.

How Covid-19 Affects Spouses

Quarantining and self-isolation have also impacted family and marriage relationships. When you’re locked in a house with your family 24/7, things can get a little tense. Everyone starts getting on each other’s nerves. Now forced to live on top of one another along with potential financial hardships, worry about health, and educating kids – simple errands such as grocery shopping can add a layer of stress.

Those couples who already had relationship issues may find them coming to the surface in the midst of this chronic stress. This realization can be a turning point for many relationships – will the crisis bring us closer together or drive us apart?

5 Suggestions for Helping Your Family Grow Closer During Covid-19

As a family, you’re likely exhausted from Covid-19. Your patience with mask-wearing, social distancing and quarantining is wearing thin. At this point, you may be willing to give anything a try to feel some semblance of normalcy.

Here are 5 things you can try as a family to reduce stress and grow closer to one another.

Incorporate “check-ins” into your family’s daily schedule.

Individuals who can identify and verbalize what they’re feeling are generally more confident and less anxious.

What’s something you’ve been thinking a lot about lately?” is a great question and potential conversation starter. Some family members may give long answers and others one-word answers. Don’t push. Let them know you’re there when and if they want to talk. Having that safety net of family support encourages acceptance and positive self-esteem.

Plan a family activity in the future so all of you have something to look forward to.

For kids who are homeschooling, the days can often feel endless. For parents working from home, you also need a break. Plan something fun that gets your whole family involved. It could be as simple as a family outing to a nearby amusement park or as large as a trip to Disney World when things are safe again. A future event gives your family the understanding that we will all come out of this pandemic…it’s not permanent.

Build spiritual disciplines into your daily life.

If you are a family of faith, get intentional about building spiritual disciplines into your daily life. When one or several of you are experiencing anxiety due to Covid-19, it can feel scary and disorienting. If you’re feeling unsure of how to help your spouse or child, you can always reach for prayer. Pray as you feel comfortable – silently for your family member or out loud in their presence. You can also read the scriptures together finding hope and comfort in the promises of God. Knowing that they’re not alone can be very reassuring to an anxious family member.

Get outside!

As the days get shorter and the weather changes, it can be tempting to stay home more. Don’t! Make it a priority to get outdoors daily for some fresh air and a change of scenery. Take a family walk every afternoon with the dog, jump on the trampoline, shoot some hoops, throw the frisbee or football around – anything to get some exercise. Moving your body releases endorphins (the feel-good hormones) and lowers stress and tension as well.

Get creative and have some fun together.

Bake cookies or make a meal together with every family member responsible for adding one ingredient. Play a game or work on a puzzle together. Designate a weekly movie night with a rotating responsibility for choosing the movie of the week. Buy snacks and make it a special night with blankets on the couch. If the weather tends to be on the warmer side, plan a picnic and eat in the backyard. And if you’re really ambitious, plan a night of camping or sleeping under the starts. You can still make good family memories during Covid-19 and strengthen your bonds with one another.

Begin Online Counseling for Kids with Anxiety in Illinois

All that being said, we’re all living under enormous stress and it’s affecting everyone differently. If your kids especially are struggling, it’s important that you reach out and get some expert help from someone experienced working with kids, teens and families with anxiety.

I’ve helped many kids and teens feel and function better. In just a handful of sessions using Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT), I help them develop the skills and confidence they need to reduce the anxiety in their lives. It’s not only a highly effective counseling process but it also enables kids and teens to create change in the shortest possible time.

Don’t allow your child to feel overwhelmed by anxiety one more day. Counseling can help your child reduce their anxiety as well as rebuild their confidence and resilience. As an experienced and caring therapist, I love providing online anxiety treatment. To start your child’s counseling journey, follow these simple steps:

  1. Click on the Schedule an Appointment button.
  2. Select a day and time in my online calendar
  3. Or learn about me, your caring online therapist 
  4. Watch your child gain confidence and feel better

Other Counseling Services at Briefly Counseling

Anxiety counseling for kids isn’t the only service I offer in my Chicago and Illinois online counseling practice. Other mental health services provided by Briefly Counseling includes anxiety counseling for teens and Christian counseling.

Helena Madsen, MA, LCPC is the founder of Briefly Counseling. I specialize in providing online short-term anxiety treatment for kids and teens ages 7 – 19 in Chicago and Illinois.

I provide all services via online therapy in Illinois. So whether you’re in Naperville, Chicago, Champaign, Rockford, Libertyville, or Crystal Lake, I can help you. Schedule your appointment or consultation today. I look forward to working with your child to quickly and effectively help them in activating their strengths, resources, and resilience, in order to live with confidence and hope.

Visit my website at www.BrieflyCounseling.com for more information or call 224-236-2296 to connect with me personally.