Having a coronavirus conversation with your kids is important: Dr. Hinshaw

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health.

In today’s coronavirus briefing, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw talked about an area of dealing with COVID-19 that we think may go somewhat under-reported.

We thought we’d provide a written transcript (with links to resources) of her comments regarding conversations with our children about COVID-19. Here are those remarks:

Dr. Deena Hinshaw – Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health

“There is another important part of preparing talking to your children. All parents and guardians should talk to their children about this virus if they haven’t done so already.

As a mother, I know these conversations can seem daunting to many parents. It is important to remember that children look to adults for guidance during new or stressful events. If you do not provide them with accurate information, they will still pick things up at school, on the playground, from television and online. It is important that all parents talk to their children in a factual, age-appropriate way.

Let them know that worrying is a normal and healthy response. Be honest and accurate.

Evidence to date suggests the vast majority of kids who contract COVID-19 experience mild symptoms.

Most importantly, parents should make their children feel safe and educate them on everyday actions they can take that will help them reduce the spread of germs.

We are developing materials to help parents with these conversations. In the meantime, there are also good resources available online from the BC Center for Disease Control, the CDC in the US and others.

THIS RESOURCE IS FROM THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGISTS

A public health emergency can have a significant impact on the mental health of children and adults alike.

I want to remind all Albertans of the importance of supporting their mental health and the health of those around them. The COVID-19 pandemic will take many weeks and even months to unfold.

It’s important that all Albertans know that mental health supports are available when needed. Anyone struggling with their mental health can reach out to the mental health helpline, which is available 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week.

Help is also available across Alberta through your local health services. Children and teens can also call or text the Kids Help Phone at any time of the night or day.

This is a free, confidential and professional service designed to meet our young people’s needs.”

We did speak with the Calgary Distress Centre earlier today to talk about an increase in calls to their lines with this crisis, along with events in the oil and gas sector (tumbling oil prices.)

They said they haven’t seen a significant uptick in calls yet. In their experience, the calls mount after the gravity of what’s happened sets in.

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