Young people in the Moreton Bay region are suffering from a “COVID hangover”, according to a local therapeutic expert.
Carinity Narangba youth counselling centre Program Manager and counsellor Diana Clift says while the height of the COVID pandemic has passed, its residual effects are having an impact on the mental health of children and teenagers.
“During COVID, everybody was told what to do with wearing masks, isolating and lockdowns,” she says.
“After that structure ended, all of a sudden people’s anxiety levels are going up wondering how to deal with uncertainty, which increases anxiety.
“It’s like following a disaster like a cyclone or bushfires, after you have had all this emotional support and that support ends, then what happens?
“People wonder, ‘How do I restart my life’?”
Diana says COVID has left some children and teenagers feeling vulnerable.
“ If they’re in a family which has compounded anxiety, as well as the stress of day-to-day living, that family unit could be ready to implode.”
Declining mental health
She says counsellors and therapists have seen an increase in incidents of domestic and family violence and homelessness in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The declining mental health of some young people and their parents has been exacerbated by external pressures and mental health triggers.
“These range from the cost of living – including the price of rent, petrol and food – to the war in Ukraine and global tensions with China.
“Uncertainty brings about anxiety. That’s what many young people, teenagers particularly, are having a lot of anxiety and panic attacks about: the unknown,” Diana says.
She says the many families are struggling to find places to rent, with children picking up on their stress.
“While the children may not understand any of it, they’re picking up on their parents’ negative energy, the way they talk and the way they interact with other people.”
Tools for resilience
Diana says children impacted by family breakdown and domestic violence are the “invisible victims and the collateral damage of an adult dilemma”.
“Parents tend to not want to overload their children with adult issues, but it seeps into the child’s world and all of a sudden they can’t focus while at school or make friends,” Diana explains.
“How do we help these children with issues such as parental separation if they don’t have coping mechanisms and they aren’t wired to deal with that emotional trauma?
“My goal is to make sure that we reach positive outcomes with each client so that when they’re ready to exit our service they’re in a better place mentally – and they have the strategies, skills and tools to be resilient.”
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