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Dr. Spinks-Franklin suggested a free downloadable ebook about coronavirus for children, put out in collaboration with the American Psychological Association. “I actually read that with one of my patients through our online call,” she said. “She was just so anxious about coronavirus and we read the book together.” Afterward, she said, “she was able to articulate how much she learned from the book and what she can do and what her family can do to keep them safe.”
If you’re worried about your child, you may need some guidance in finding help in this changing landscape of remote therapy and tele-mental health. “Often I’ll tell people to start with their pediatrician, they often have a sense of what’s available, and recommendations around mental health providers,” Dr. Vinson said. “Insurance companies have really lowered barriers around providing tele-mental health services,” she said.
The summer may be a good time to look for a therapist if a child is struggling; as the school year picks up, schedules may fill. Talk to your child’s primary care provider, talk to the school, consider reconnecting with a counselor or therapist who has seen your child before. If your child is already taking a medication — for anxiety, for attentional issues, for depression — talk to the doctor who prescribed it to see if an adjustment is indicated.
Remote mental health may be harder with young children, Dr. Kaslow said, though many therapists are finding ways to be really creative, asking children to show their favorite toys and how they play with them, and to talk about their home environments and how they’re feeling.
Dr. Vinson said that for many children with mental health problems, symptoms have gotten more severe. “If they were anxious, they’re more anxious, if they were depressed, it’s harder, if it’s schizophrenia, the voices went up.” Her own work as a child and adolescent psychiatrist has increased, she said, with children needing more help during the pandemic.
Frequently Asked Questions
Updated August 6, 2020
- Think about a bar. Alcohol is flowing. It can be loud, but it’s definitely intimate, and you often need to lean in close to hear your friend. And strangers have way, way fewer reservations about coming up to people in a bar. That’s sort of the point of a bar. Feeling good and close to strangers. It’s no surprise, then, that bars have been linked to outbreaks in several states. Louisiana health officials have tied at least 100 coronavirus cases to bars in the Tigerland nightlife district in Baton Rouge. Minnesota has traced 328 recent cases to bars across the state. In Idaho, health officials shut down bars in Ada County after reporting clusters of infections among young adults who had visited several bars in downtown Boise. Governors in California, Texas and Arizona, where coronavirus cases are soaring, have ordered hundreds of newly reopened bars to shut down. Less than two weeks after Colorado’s bars reopened at limited capacity, Gov. Jared Polis ordered them to close.
I have antibodies. Am I now immune?
- As of right now, that seems likely, for at least several months. There have been frightening accounts of people suffering what seems to be a second bout of Covid-19. But experts say these patients may have a drawn-out course of infection, with the virus taking a slow toll weeks to months after initial exposure. People infected with the coronavirus typically produce immune molecules called antibodies, which are protective proteins made in response to an infection. These antibodies may last in the body only two to three months, which may seem worrisome, but that’s perfectly normal after an acute infection subsides, said Dr. Michael Mina, an immunologist at Harvard University. It may be possible to get the coronavirus again, but it’s highly unlikely that it would be possible in a short window of time from initial infection or make people sicker the second time.
I’m a small-business owner. Can I get relief?
- The stimulus bills enacted in March offer help for the millions of American small businesses. Those eligible for aid are businesses and nonprofit organizations with fewer than 500 workers, including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and freelancers. Some larger companies in some industries are also eligible. The help being offered, which is being managed by the Small Business Administration, includes the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. But lots of folks have not yet seen payouts. Even those who have received help are confused: The rules are draconian, and some are stuck sitting on money they don’t know how to use. Many small-business owners are getting less than they expected or not hearing anything at all.
What are my rights if I am worried about going back to work?
What is school going to look like in September?
- It is unlikely that many schools will return to a normal schedule this fall, requiring the grind of online learning, makeshift child care and stunted workdays to continue. California’s two largest public school districts — Los Angeles and San Diego — said on July 13, that instruction will be remote-only in the fall, citing concerns that surging coronavirus infections in their areas pose too dire a risk for students and teachers. Together, the two districts enroll some 825,000 students. They are the largest in the country so far to abandon plans for even a partial physical return to classrooms when they reopen in August. For other districts, the solution won’t be an all-or-nothing approach. Many systems, including the nation’s largest, New York City, are devising hybrid plans that involve spending some days in classrooms and other days online. There’s no national policy on this yet, so check with your municipal school system regularly to see what is happening in your community.
“Parents need to take their children seriously,” Dr. Spinks-Franklin said. “This is a very stressful time for adults and children, and we don’t want to disregard it when a child tells us how stressed they are, how worried they are.”
Cindy Liu, a clinical psychologist in the departments of pediatric newborn medicine and psychiatry at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the director of the developmental risk and cultural resilience program, said that in a setting in which we are all now accustomed to thinking of the risks of viral infection, it’s important to consider “stress contagion” and the risks to those who are most vulnerable, and to families at higher risk because of structural racism and socioeconomic disparities.