Medical professionals address anxieties

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - Due to coronavirus concerns, medical professionals are seeing an influx in increased anxieties.

Mental health practitioner with Great Plains Health, Fran Rieken said anxieties are increased in adolescents.

She said some of that is due to the news of the coronavirus and kids not having school. She said one of the best things you can do to help kids is keep structure as much as possible.

"I’m seeing a change in the sleeping patterns, the structure of the routine, even prolonging routine a couple hours is kind of disrupting the child’s daily living activities. I would be really consistent with the school schedule as much as you can," said Rieken.

Rieken also suggests spending more time with kids that are home from school and being attentive to them.

"One thing that I would stress for parents is spending time with your child, but practicing coping skills. For example, the common complaints of stomach aches and headaches, coping skills like deep breathing, muscle relaxation, mindfulness, grounding techniques, it’s really important to practice those when we’re calm and not worried so when we are worried, parents can prompt the children," said Rieken.

Geetanjali Sahu, child and adolescent psychiatrist at Great Plains Health, said anxieties are running high.

"Usually kids are at school at this time and now, they are home full time along with their parents and this is creating a lot of anxiety about what routine, structures, behaviors, basically everything, is up in the air right now so everybody's feeling it," said Sahu.

Another thing these medical professionals recommend is not avoiding the topic. Both Rieken and Sahu say to talk with children about what is going on in the world with the virus, in terms they can understand.

"I think at this stage everybody knows about coronavirus, so I think a great question would be like, 'Hey, have you heard about coronavirus? What have you heard?' and just build up on the information you already have, what they've heard from friends, teachers and basically tell them what is true and what is not true," said Sahu.

"I would sit down with your children and prompt them, 'Do you have any questions? Is this making sense? This is what mom and dad understand,' and go from it at their level of understanding," said Rieken.

Additional resources can be found on the CDC website as well as Great Plains Health.