As scientists are still researching the Coronavirus and its long-term effects on humans, in a recent study, researchers have said that early detection of the SARS-CoV-2 infection and sooner treatment are important to avoid long-term mental health issues from COVID-19 among children and young people.
The new study has highlighted how health anxieties can be triggered by sudden changes like returning to school. It also suggests that young people need time to readjust to routine and to deal with emotions after spending a long time staying at home.
As per experts parents, and teachers should be aware of signs such as excessive hand washing that could be a health concern, triggered by the invisible threat posed by Coronavirus.
The recently published study's author Jo Daniels from the University of Bath in the U.K. said, "Children are not immune to worries about their health, or the health of those around them. It is essential that we are able to recognize when normal concerns around COVID-19 become more problematic."
Tummy ache, sleeping problems, and not engaging in normally enjoyable activities — could emerge as signs of stress in children, especially for those who are affected by health-related anxiety, reported IANS.
The lead author of the study said, "You might expect to see excessive hand-washing, exaggerated avoidance of touching objects for fear of picking up the virus, or repeated reassurance seeking from adults in addition to the usual signs of stress and worry."
As per the study, children may not always be able to explain or verbalize their concerns clearly, and in those cases, they are looking for marked changes in behavior. The team of researchers who conducted this study suggest that health anxieties in children could be triggered by an immediate family member becoming ill, like the person who is considered as the head of the family, or perhaps due to family tensions because of parental health-related worries.
In such situations, they advise parents and teachers of the child to seek professional help where needed. Their guidance offers suggestions about how cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), can be an effective treatment option to address health anxiety in children and young people.
During the Coronavirus pandemic, the team of researchers has previously highlighted mental health vulnerabilities including health anxiety in adults, and loneliness in children, as well as in young people.
They suggested that parents or teachers who notice that a child or young person is worried about health should let them allow them to speak up about their worries by gently listening to their concerns, and then they can encourage them to find ways to gradually face and overcome their tensions.
The study also noted that simple interventions that may be helpful could include correcting misunderstandings surrounding the SARS-CoV-2 and the necessary precautions from contracting the virus.
(With additional inputs from agencies)