Staying mentally healthy during COVID-19

| By Te-ojah, 12th grade |

August 2020… “In times like COVID-19, children face uncertainty, sudden change, and stress,” said Dr. Kathleen Napalinga, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Einstein Healthcare Network, in a recent interview. “Their mental health can decline and take the forms of anxiety, depression, and sudden changes in behavior.”

Dr. Napalinga said the changes in behavior include insomnia, irritability, difficulties with concentration, changes in eating, withdrawal, a sense of hopelessness, and a sense of being trapped.

COVID-19 has isolated many people and families inside of their homes for long periods of time and has disrupted the daily flow for almost everyone. Aside from impacting schools, workplaces, and businesses, COVID-19 can take a toll on an individual’s mental health.

But the question remains, what is mental health, and how can people, especially children, stay mentally healthy? Mental Health is exactly what it sounds like: It’s the health of your mind. “Being mentally healthy allows us to be more resilient and creative,” said Dr. Napalinga. Mental health “goes hand-in-hand with physical well-being.”

In a separate interview, Dr. Nancy Petersmeyer, a Philadelphia psychiatrist, said that it’s important for people to stay connected during these challenging times. “Human beings are made to be in a community,” she said. “The best way to do this now is to communicate virtually or over the phone.”

Dr. Petersmeyer also noted the importance of exercise, positive conversation, keeping a routine, and eating healthy foods.

Taking care of your mental health during COVID-19 (and any other time) is important. It helps you, and those around you.

So check in with yourself and stay healthy. –Te-ojah served as a Healthy NewsWorks intern this past summer.


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