Covid-19 Health & Wellness Resources
Important Health & Social Distancing Information
DOH Hotline and Phone Numbers:
- People under self-quarantine or exposure to known case, call (866) 588-0195
- NYS Department of Health COVID-19 Hotline (888) 364-3065
- Westchester County COVID-19 Information Call 211
New York State Department of Health
Preventative measures are most effective if we embrace and implement them as a community. We all play a vital role in this effort. Social distancing has proven to be one of the most effective ways to lessen the impact of an epidemic, by limiting the number of people an infected person comes into contact with before they show signs of the virus. As we enter another weekend of the current pandemic, please take note of the below recommendations and encourage students to all do their part by making the daily choice to distance themselves from each other as much as possible and choosing to stay (with parental monitoring) connected using phone or technology. We all have parts to play as responsible community members and social distancing will have a massive impact on the health of our community and our nation.
- Keep contact with others at a minimum. The general guidelines that have been issued by the White House and the CDC are not to gather in groups of more than ten people and to maintain a distance between you and other people. Please be mindful that even small numbers of people together, even for a limited time, can easily spread Covid-19. This is because they will all likely touch the same surface. The virus can live on surfaces for days.
- Food should not be shared.
- Avoid public places as much as possible.
- Maintain six feet from others and avoid shaking hands.
- Handwashing and keeping your hands away from your face is essential.
- Anyone with respiratory symptoms or fever or anyone with a household contact with these symptoms should stay home and immediately contact their care provider.
Social distancing can take a toll. The CDC offers tips and resources to reduce this burden. The American Psychological Association and the National Association of School Psychologists also provide resources on strategies to cope with the added stress during this time.
OFFICE OF MENTAL HEALTH
Feeling Stressed About Coronavirus (COVID-19)? Managing Anxiety in an Anxiety-Provoking
Situation New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH)
OMH has also created the New York State Emotional Support Line staffed by specially trained volunteers who can help you. Call 1-844-863-9314.
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGISTS
Talking to Children About COVID-19 (Coronavirus): A Parent Resource National Association of School Psychologists
- The publication, Talking to Children About COVID-19 (Coronavirus): A Parent Resource, from the National Association of School Psychologists, offers suggestions for remaining calm and assuring, making yourself available to young people, keeping explanations age appropriate, avoiding excessive blaming, monitoring television and social media exposure, maintaining a normal routine to the extent possible, being honest and accurate, knowing the symptoms of COVID-19, reviewing and modeling basic hygiene and healthy lifestyle practices for protection, and discussing new rules or practices for school.
CARE FOR CAREGIVERS
- The National Association of School Psychologists also offers guidance for caregivers, called Care for Caregivers: Tips for Families and Educators. Parents, teachers, and other caregivers play a critical role in helping children cope with crises, often ignoring their own needs in the process. However, caregivers must take good care of themselves, so they are able to take good care of the children in their charge.
The National Association of School Psychologists also offers brief facts and tips for addressing grief for young people.
NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
Helping Children After Tragic Events: Stop Watching, Start Talking
- Watching and listening to very bad news reports can upset children. Parents, caregivers, teachers, and healthcare providers can do a lot to help children feel safer and less stressed. Turning off the TV and other screens is a good start. News coverage of tragic events is not healthy for kids. Here's why.
- The constant news of tragic events can be intense and hard to avoid.
- When an event is on the news around the clock, it doesn’t go away for a child.
- The constant news of the event can hurt a child’s mental and physical health. They can feel less secure and safe.
- Even when an event takes place far away from a child’s home, seeing the event on TV can make the child feel like it’s a threat to them and the people they love.
- Mental stress from a disaster can be harder on children than on adults. o Children feel less of a sense of control.
- Children understand less about the situation.
- Children have fewer experiences bouncing back from hard situations.
- You can help kids after these events. Here's how.
- Ask them: What have you already heard about the event? Do you have any questions?
- Share basic information, not the details.
- For younger children: turn off the TV, the radio, and the computer or tablet.
- For older children: watch a news report with them and help them to understand it.
- Parents, teachers, doctors, and others can make a difference.
The New York State Department of Health offers further information for helping children after tragic events on its website.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES SUBSTANCE ABUSE & MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES ADMINISTRATION (SAMHSA)
- The fact sheet Talking with Children: Tips for Caregivers, Parents, and Teachers During Infectious Disease Outbreaks from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides parents, caregivers, and teachers with strategies for helping children manage their stress during an infectious disease outbreak. It describes potential reactions among youth and the support adults can provide to help them.
THE NATIONAL CHILD TRAUMATIC STRESS NETWORK
- The National Child Traumatic Stress Network’s guide Parent/Caregiver Guide to Helping Families Cope With the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) will help you think about how an infectious disease outbreak might affect your family—both physically and emotionally—and what you can do to help your family cope.
Important information and phone numbers from other sources.
New York State Office of Mental Health Crisis Counselors - Call 1-800-273- TALK or text GOT5 to 741741.
- Are you struggling in the midst of COVID-19? Crisis counselors are still just a phone call or text away.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- If you or someone you know is suicidal or in emotional distress, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Trained crisis workers are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Your confidential and toll free call goes to the nearest crisis center in the Lifeline national network. These centers provide crisis counseling and mental health referrals.
SAMHSA’s National Helpline – 1-800-662-HELP (4357)/ 1-800-487-4889 (TDD)
- Free and confidential information in English and Spanish for individuals and family members facing substance abuse and mental health issues. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Wellness & How To Talk to Your Child About Coronavirus COVID-19
The CDC recommends the following:
- Remain calm and reassuring. Remember that children will react to both what you say and how you say it. They will pick up cues from the conversations you have with them and with others.
- Make yourself available to listen and to talk. Make time to talk. Be sure children know they can come to you when they have questions.
- Avoid language that might blame others and lead to stigma. Remember that viruses can make anyone sick, regardless of a person’s race or ethnicity. Avoid making assumptions about who might have COVID-19.
- Pay attention to what children see or hear on television, radio, or online: Consider reducing the amount of screen time focused on COVID-19. Too much information on one topic can lead to anxiety.
- Provide information that is honest and accurate: Give children information that is truthful and appropriate for the age and developmental level of the child.
- Talk to children about how some stories on COVID-19 on the Internet and social media may be based on rumors and inaccurate information.
- Teach children everyday actions to reduce the spread of germs.
- Remind children to stay away from people who are coughing or sneezing or sick.
- Remind them to cough or sneeze into a tissue or their elbow, then throw the tissue into the trash.
- Get children into a handwashing habit.Teach them to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food. If soap and water are not available, teach them to use hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer should contain at least 60% alcohol. Supervise young children when they use hand sanitizer to prevent swallowing alcohol, especially in schools and childcare facilities.
Children and teens react, in part, on what they see from the adults around them. When parents and caregivers deal with the COVID-19 calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children. Parents can be more reassuring to others around them, especially children, if they are better prepared.
When adults remain calm, children will also remain calm. Make sure children understand they are safe. There are many things you can do to support your child:
- Take time to talk with your child or teen about the COVID-19 outbreak. Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child or teen can understand.
- Reassure your child or teen that they are safe. Let them know it is ok if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you.
- Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.
- Try to keep up with regular routines. If schools are closed, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities.
- Be a role model. Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members.
Learn more about helping children cope. Additional resources:
Video interviews with therapists about helping children manage anxiety around Coronavirus:
Here are some articles about structuring time during the school closure:
Here is guidance on speaking to your children about Coronavirus:
Finally, if you are having trouble structuring your child’s time at home, please contact our behavioral specialist, Jenna Mazzillo: firstname.lastname@example.org
For any emotional concerns please contact your school psychologist or guidance counselor. Please contact medical intervention for serious immediate concerns.
STAY CALM, LISTEN, AND OFFER REASSURANCE
Be a role model. Children will react to and follow your reactions. They learn from your example.
Be aware of how you talk about COVID-19. Your discussion about COVID-19 can increase or decrease your child's fear. If true, remind your child that your family is healthy, and you are going to do everything within your power to keep loved ones safe and well. Carefully listen or have them draw or write out their thoughts and feelings and respond with truth and reassurance.
Explain social distancing. Children probably don’t fully understand why parents/guardians aren’t allowing them to be with friends. Tell your child that your family is following the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which include social distancing. Social distancing means staying away from others until the risk of contracting COVID-19 is under control. Showing older children the "flatten the curve" charts will help them grasp the significance of social distancing.
Explain that while we don't know how long it will take to "flatten the curve" to reduce the number of those infected, we do know that this is a critical time—we must follow the guidelines of health experts to do our part.
Demonstrate deep breathing. Deep breathing is a valuable tool for calming the nervous system. Do breathing exercises with your children.
Focus on the positive. Celebrate having more time to spend as a family. Make it as fun as possible. Do family projects. Organize belongings, create masterpieces. Sing, laugh, and go outside, if possible, to connect with nature and get needed exercise. Allow older children to connect with their friends virtually.
Establish and maintain a daily routine. Keeping a regular schedule provides a sense of control, predictability, calm, and well-being. It also helps children and other family members respect others’ need for quiet or uninterrupted time and when they can connect with friends virtually.
Identify projects that might help others. This could include: writing letters to the neighbors or others who might be stuck at home alone or to healthcare workers; sending positive messages over social media; or reading a favorite children’s book on a social media platform for younger children to hear.
Offer lots of love and affection.
MONITOR TELEVISION VIEWING AND SOCIAL MEDIA
Parents/guardians should monitor television, internet, and social media viewing—both for themselves and their children.
Watching continual updates on COVID-19 may increase fear and anxiety. Developmentally inappropriate information, or information designed for adults, can also cause anxiety or confusion, particularly in young children.
Dispel rumors and inaccurate information. Explain to your child that many stories about COVID-19 on the internet may include rumors and inaccurate information. Older children, in particular, may be accessing a great deal of information online and from friends that contains inaccuracies. Talk to your child about factual disease information.
Provide alternatives. Engage your child in games or other exciting activities instead.
TAKE TIME TO TALK
Let your children's questions guide you. Answer their questions truthfully, but don't offer unnecessary details or facts. Don't avoid giving them the information that experts indicate as crucial to your children's well-being. Often, children and youth do not talk about their concerns because they are confused or don't want to worry loved ones. Younger children absorb scary information in waves. They ask questions, listen, play, and then repeat the cycle. Children always feel empowered if they can control some aspects of their life. A sense of control reduces fear.
BE HONEST AND ACCURATE
Correct misinformation. Children often imagine situations worse than reality; therefore, offering developmentally appropriate facts can reduce fears.
Explain simple safety steps. Tell your child this disease spreads between people who are in close contact with one another, when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or when one touches infected objects or surfaces.
Stay up-to-date on the facts. Go to https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.htmlfor additional factual information.
KEEP EXPLANATIONS AGE-APPROPRIATE
Early elementary school children. Provide brief, simple information that balances COVID-19 facts with appropriate reassurances that adults are there to help keep them healthy and to take care of them if they do get sick. Give simple examples of the steps people make every day to stop germs and stay healthy, such as washing hands. Use language such as "adults are working hard to keep you safe."
Upper elementary and early middle school children. This age group often is more vocal in asking questions about whether they indeed are safe and what will happen if COVID-19 spreads in their area. They may need assistance separating reality from rumor and fantasy. Discuss the efforts national, state, and community leaders are doing to prevent germs from spreading.
Upper middle and high school students. Issues can be discussed in more depth. Refer them to appropriate sources of COVID-19 facts. Provide honest, accurate, and factual information about the current status of COVID-19. Engage them in decision-making about family plans, scheduling, and helping with chores at home.
For all children, encourage them to verbalize their thoughts and feelings. Be a good listener!
STAY CONNECTED TO SCHOOL
Please note we are here for you, reach out to the school or district.
Identify additional resources. Know if your school or district is providing additional resources, such meals, or technology, such as a laptop or tablet.
Stay in touch. Find out how the school is communicating with families and students. Be sure to read any communications you receive. Check with you children, particularly older ones, as they may be receiving information directly that would be helpful for you to know.
Connect with school staff. Reach out to your child’s teacher and other relevant school staff if you have concerns about their coping and keeping up with assignments or activities.
KNOW THE SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19
According to the CDC, symptoms of fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath appear within 14 days after being exposed to the disease. For some people, the symptoms are similar to having a cold; for others, they are more severe or even life threatening.
MODEL BASIC HYGIENE AND HEALTHY LIFESTYLE PRACTICES
Practice daily good hygiene. Encourage your child to practice these simple steps to prevent spreading the virus.
Wash your hands multiple times a day for 20 seconds. Signing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” or “Happy Birthday” twice is about 20 seconds.
Compliment your children when they use a Kleenex or sneeze or cough into the bend of their elbow. Teach them the importance of throwing away used tissues immediately after sneezing or coughing.
Sadly, handshakes and hugs need to be limited to immediate family members, at least for now.
Foster a sense of control. Offering guidance on what your child/children can do to prevent infection offers them a greater sense of control, which reduces anxiety.
Build the immune system. Encourage your child to eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly; this will help them develop a robust immune system to fight off illness.
BE AWARE OF YOUR CHILDREN’S MENTAL HEALTH
Most children will manage well with the support of parents and other family members, even if showing signs of some anxiety or concerns, such as difficulty sleeping or concentrating. Some children, however, may have risk factors for more intense reactions, including severe anxiety, depression, and suicidal behaviors. Risk factors can include a pre-existing mental health problem, prior traumatic experiences or abuse, family instability, or the loss of a loved one. Parents and caregivers should contact a professional if children exhibit significant changes in behavior or any of the following symptoms for more than 2 weeks.
Preschoolers—thumb sucking, bedwetting, clinging to parents, sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, fear of the dark, regression in behavior, and withdrawal.
Elementary school children—irritability, aggressiveness, clinginess, nightmares, school avoidance, poor concentration, and withdrawal from activities and friends.
Adolescents—sleeping and eating disturbances, agitation, increase in conflicts, physical complaints, delinquent behavior, and poor concentration.
Coping With Stress During Infectious Disease Outbreaks, https://store.samhsa.gov/product/Coping-with-Stress-During-Infectious-Disease-Outbreaks/sma14-4885
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/children.html
Handwashing and Hand Sanitizer Use at Home, at Play, and Out and About, https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/pdf/hand-sanitizer-factsheet.pdf
NASP COVID-19 Resource Center, https://www.nasponline.org/COVID-19