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Therapist: More kids seeking help amid COVID-19 outbreak

Therapist offers tips for parents to help kids cope with stress around COVID-19.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The coronavirus has impacted life for all of us, and for many, it's a stressful time. Kids are also feeling the stress. Appointments are up at WellStone where therapists at their Nova Clinic are seeing more kids right now who are dealing with stress and anxiety due to COVID-19.

"A lot of times these are children who are already dealing with issues previously and so now that this is coming around there is just more of an increase in anxiety they are experiencing right now," said Jasmine Butler, Children's Division Director at Nova Center at WellStone.

Often, they'll express that stress by acting up. 

"They're showing some regression," said Butler. "So things that they had once been able to accomplish and move past with their therapist, they are now showing some of those same behaviors and symptoms again."

The coronavirus has been a common topic in recent counseling sessions. And with schools closed, they're seeing even more calls for therapy. WellStone is also now busy with school-based therapy services. 

"Those therapists that were on site in school are now here in the office," she said.

The plan at WellStone is to stay open for business so folks can get the help they need through this pandemic.

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"If they are trying to be cautious about coming in, then we have this service we can provide over the phone or video chat," said Butler. 

And parents can help kids too.

"Really [parents] should be aware of how much exposure their child is getting to the news," she said. "It's very easy for children to misinterpret what's being reported and that can create more anxiety and stress for them."

Have a conversation with your kids about COVID-19 and what's happening in a way kids can understand is important.

"Be a good role model," said Butler. "Stress and anxiety can transfer. So kids can feel when their parents are stressed about something."

With kids being out of school, parents can implement routines at home to help lessen stress.

"Just [have] a schedule of activities they're going to do laid out at a specific time," said Butler. "Have your kids get outside and exercise, give them a well balanced meal, make sure they're getting enough sleep and continue to connect where they can in a safe way with friends and family."

The CDC also offers parents tips for helping children cope with stress around the coronavirus.

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