Psychosocial/financial resources

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    What can I do to manage my own anxiety in response to COVID-19?

    Anxiety is a completely normal human response to threat and many of us are feeling overwhelmed by the current crisis. The uncertainty and unpredictability surrounding COVID-19 makes it particularly challenging for us to manage emotionally, and thus learning to sit with this uncertainty and focus on what is in our control, versus what isn’t in our control, can be a helpful way for promoting wellbeing for us and for our families.

    Here are some resources about coping, anxiety management and self-care:

    What can I do to manage my child’s worry and anxiety?

    Kids worry more when they are kept in the dark, so it’s important that we speak to our children in a way to reassure them, and help them understand what they can do to minimise the impact of this epidemic. 

    Remain calm and reassuring

    Children will react to and follow your verbal and non-verbal reactions, and what you say and do about COVID-19 can either increase or decrease their anxiety.

    Make yourself available 
    Children may need extra attention from you during this time and knowing that you are present and happy to discuss their concerns when needed, will be calming in itself.

    Find out what your child knows 
    It’s a good idea to start by asking your child what she knows about the virus and whether she has any questions. For example, ‘On the news today, they were talking about coronavirus. Were people at school talking about that? What were they saying?’

    Explain COVID-19 in a way your child can understand

    • Use a calm, reassuring tone and stick to the facts.
    • For younger children, keep it simple and brief. For example, ‘That’s right, some people are getting sick with a germ. It makes them cough and sneeze. The sick people are being looked after well by doctors and hospitals’. There are some useful social stories for use with younger children:
    • For older children, offer more detail. For example, ‘I heard you talking with your friends about how you catch coronavirus. The virus spreads through things like sneezing, coughing and touching infected things. That’s why good hygiene and hand-washing are really important. They help to protect everyone.’
    • Superherome offers a great resource package for children and people with disabilities

    Tune into your child’s feelings and worries 
    Children may experience a range of feelings and may have various specific worries about COVID-19. They may be worried about getting sick, family members getting sick, missing out on school, family coping, etc.

    Openly discuss these feelings and worries and let your child know that these experiences are normal. It might reassure your child if you share your own feelings and what you’re doing to cope with them.

    For example:

    • ‘I can see that you’re worried about grandpa getting really sick. I love how caring you are. If anyone we know gets sick, the hospital will take good care of them. Let's have a cuddle to help us feel better.’
    • ‘It can be scary not knowing what’s going to happen with the virus. Scientists all over the world are working hard to find a vaccine and treatment. In Australia, we have good hospitals, doctors and nurses who can look after us.’
    • ‘It’s OK to be worried about catching coronavirus. I sometimes worry too. Some people are only getting minor symptoms like what you get when you have a cold. If I need some good information, I look at the health department website.’
    • ‘It’s disappointing we can’t go to the footy on the weekend. But the doctors say that this will help stop the spread of coronavirus, so this is how we can help. Let’s watch the footy on TV together.’

    Monitor TV viewing and social media

    Keeping your child informed is important, however it is important to provide accurate, age-appropriate information as opposed to the all-too-common fear-provoking media reports that are out there. Try to set limits around TV and social media use and engage children other enjoyable activities instead.

    Focus on what your child can do

    Give your child a sense of control by identifying what they can practically do to keep themselves and others safe (e.g., hand hygiene practices, social distancing, etc). Identify together what else the family can do to cope, for example, keeping active, practicing some breathing or relaxation, engaging in enjoyable activities at home, etc.

    Identify any ‘bigger’ worries out of the child’s control and assure your child that this is a worry for the adults to manage, not the child (e.g., parents, doctors, etc).

    Maintain as much routine as possible

    Routine can create a sense of safety and predictability for your child, particularly in times of stress and uncertainty. Whilst we know that this might be difficult in light of social distancing, it can help to create some predictability within a new, home-based routine, where possible.

    What resources/services are available if I need some additional psychosocial support?

    The CDC (Centre for disease control) provides a good general guide around managing stress and coping (as this is a US based website their helplines cannot be used from Australia).

    Some useful resources include:

    Resources for caregivers

    Resources for children

    If you don’t feel that you or a family member is safe, then go immediately to the local emergency department or call 000.

    I am worried about my family’s finances. What can I do?

    We are worried about the economic impacts COVID-19 will have on families too. We have put together a list of resources to consider including information on:

    • Centrelink package information
    • Superannuation payments
    • Support for businesses
    • Support for students
    • Support for parents
    • Crisis housing/crisis social support

    Click here to download a guide to: Financial resources for families to explore during COVID-19 pandemic