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  • Mary Smith

COVID's Psychological Toll


This article caught my eye because mental illness is up during COVID but I guess it’s really not surprising. There’s the obvious physical health and financial realities which are flat out frightening. The routine is gone, kids are home from college and school. In fact, I only included 3 sticks of gum in a rumpled 12-pack as part of a package to one of my daughters who didn't come home because I couldn’t just run into the store and grab a few last minute things to pad out my USPS box of sweet potato brownies.

The truth is I probably could run into a store, but I’m scared - and that fear is going to rub off on those around me. Sure, I feel my fear is legitimate - I have a child with chronic lung disease which puts her in the high risk category. That’s scary. But that doesn't change the fact that my fear is going to impact my family. Parents need to protect the mental health not only of themselves but also of their children. And guess what? Like this article says, it’s usually when we get back to our normal lives that the issues show up. The truth is that it’s no different than my usual mantra which is we have to nurture the mental health of our children today to protect them from anxiety and depression, especially as teens and young 20-year-old’s who are already experiencing rising levels of anxiety and depression.

If I were to give you one tool to put into your toolbox as an antidote to the lurking anxiety and/or depression, it’s attuning. True attunement is not simply undivided attention; it is being open and aware to what is happening with your child and responding to those needs which ultimately helps the child regulate his/her emotions. Intentionally paying more attention to someone may be the best way to encourage emergence of rapport. Listening carefully, with undivided attention, orients our neural circuits for connectivity, putting us on the same wavelength. That maximizes the likelihood that the other essential ingredients for rapport -- synchrony and positive feelings -- might bloom (Daniel Siegel).