Mental wellness and keeping well during COVID-19

Parent/Caregiver Guide: Helping to Cope with Coronavirus/ COVID-19

This resource provides information for parents and caregivers about outbreaks, how they can prepare to reduce stress and anxiety, how it may affect your family both physically and emotionally and ways to cope.

Talking to Children about COVID-19

A resource for parents on how best to talk to children about the coronavirus.

Talking to Teens and Tweens about COVID-19

A resource for parents on how best to talk to children about the coronavirus.

Talking to your child about COVID-19

How to have calming conversations about COVID-19

Ten Percent Happier

Helping parents and children/youth navigate anxiety with coronavirus


Social Distancing at Home

Things to do at home with children

Social Distancing

A perspective on why we need to socially distance ourselves at a Saskatoon level.


CDC- Hand Washing Tips

This is a hand washing resource for parents to refer to.


Example of Daily Schedule

An example of what a routine could look like at home. Keeping kids on a schedule allows for a sense of security and calm. Structure and Routine help children to feel safe and to be able to predict what is happening. It provides a sense of control of the environment.


A Child-Friendly way to read about COVID-19

A resource for children about coronavirus, what it is and how to protect oneself.

Teachers Pay Teachers— Coping Strategies

Here is a list of 100 coping strategies that may be helpful! While your child is at home, practice these different coping strategies! You don't have to use the term "coping strategy," rather you can just frame it as doing something fun. This is from Teachers pay Teachers NOTE: You may need to create an account to access the free downloadable material


Common Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety in Children

Anxiety in children can present differently than in adults. Children may:

  • Become clingy, and not like changes.
  • Show anger and have tantrums.
  • Use behaviors to try & control the situation.
  • Can be irritable, cranky or in a bad mood.
  • Worry a lot or have many fears.
  • Complain of tiredness or having trouble sleeping.
  • Have body symptoms such as headache, stomachaches, or other somatic complaints.
  • Can be restless and have difficulty concentrating (can be confused with ADD/ADHD)
  • Anxiety can affect schooling; for example, the child may not talk in class, have trouble in groups or excessive worry about their schoolwork.
  • Anxiety can affect how the child does socially; for example, the child may have trouble making new friends, or attending birthday parties and sleepovers.
  • Anxiety symptoms are often not evident to outsiders – some children keep their anxiety inside.
  • About 20% of children & adolescents will meet the criteria for an anxiety disorder at some time in their lives.
  • Anxiety can seem to get better on its own; it comes and goes.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety in Youth

  • The following are eleven common signs of anxiety in youth:
  • Consistent or persistent worry about school, friends, following rules, or approval of teachers and parents
  • Complaints of physical problems with no physical cause
  • Problems sleeping (falling asleep, waking up throughout the night, or waking up early)
  • Being overly critical of themselves, or doubting their abilities – low self-esteem
  • Continually checking & rechecking schoolwork and other chores to make sure it is done correctly; tendency to seek self-perfection
  • Avoidance of social activities, withdrawal from friends, or not wanting to go to school
  • Individuals diagnosed with ADHD or depression may experience symptoms of anxiety
  • Inability to stop the worry despite reassurances from school personnel and parents
  • Irritability, mood swings, or experimentation with alcohol and drugs (self-medicating)
  • Self-injury may be used to regulate mood in individuals suffering from anxiety
  • Acting out against authority.

Strategies for Helping Your Child with Anxiety

  • Monitor your own anxiety. Try to be a calming presence for your child.
  • Acknowledge that the worry is real. Being able to talk about it can take some of the power out of it.
  • Teach coping strategies:
    • Relaxation techniques (daily)
    • Positive self-talk
    • Focus on strengths & interests
  • The key to resolving anxieties is to face them in a supportive and gentle manner. Work on positive
  • Set reasonable, achievable goals.
  • Healthy sleeping, eating and exercise.
  • Patience, patience, patience!
  • Have a sense of humor with your child.
  • Praise achievements (big or small)!
  • Reduce exposure to anxiety provoking media.
  • Model the behaviours you want to encourage (asking for help, relaxing, positive outlook on life, laughing at ourselves, facing challenges etc.)

Questions Parents can ask themselves

  • Are your child’s fears and behaviors typical for their age?
  • What are their symptoms? Do they affect your child’s personal, academic and social well-being?
  • Does the fear seem blown out of proportion? Is it an appropriate fear for the situation?
  • Is there a pattern with their behaviour that has lasted several months?
  • How is your own anxiety?
  • What kind of supports do you have? Family, friends, community, school, church etc.


Exposure to uncomfortable and anxiety provoking situations is a fact of life in the normal development of children and youth. Facing and dealing with anxiety provides young people with the opportunity to develop coping strategies and a sense of their own competence. In other words, to become resilient.

Anxiety and the Coronavirus

Here’s some great information if your child is feeling anxious about Coronavirus. This is a comic that provides great information to kids

Whole Child Counselling

Coronavirus resources for kids, parents, and educators. How can you help your child manage the anxiety they may be feeling.

Mindshift App

Is anxiety getting in the way of your life? MindShift™ CBT uses scientifically proven strategies based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to help you learn to relax and be mindful, develop more effective ways of thinking, and use active steps to take charge of your anxiety.

Ten Percent Happier

Helping parents and children/youth navigate anxiety with coronavirus


Depression in youth is a serious mental health problem that results in persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest in activities. The signs and symptoms include a change from the teenager's previous attitude and behavior that can cause significant problems at school or home, in social activities, or in other parts of their life. If depression signs and symptoms continue, begin to interfere in your child’s life, or cause you to have concerns about suicide or their safety, talk to a doctor or a mental health professional. Your teen's family doctor or school is a good place to start. Depression isn't a weakness that can be overcome with willpower — it can have serious consequences and requires treatment. For most youth, depression symptoms ease with treatment such as medication and counseling.

Signs of Depression in Youth

Symptoms can vary depending on the individual. Be alert for possible emotional and behavioural changes, such as:

  • Feelings of sadness, which can include crying spells for no apparent reason
  • Frustration or feelings of anger, even over small matters
  • Feeling hopeless or empty
  • Irritable or annoyed mood
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
  • Ongoing sense that life and the future are grim and bleak
  • Tiredness and loss of energy, insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Changes in appetite — decreased appetite, weight loss, or increased cravings for food and weightgain
  • Use of alcohol or drugs
  • Agitation or restlessness — for example, pacing, an inability to sit still
  • Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
  • Frequent complaints of unexplained body aches and headaches
  • Social isolation
  • Poor school performance or frequent absences from school
  • Less attention to personal hygiene or appearance
  • Angry outbursts, disruptive or risky behavior, or other acting out behaviors
  • Self-harm - for example, cutting, burning or excessive piercing or tattooing
  • Frequent thoughts of death, dying or suicide or making a suicide plan or suicide attempt


Healthy Approaches to Stress

  • Understand the Stress Response (Why do I feel like I do?), its purpose and its various levels
  • Interpret the stress response as positive, not negative. See it as a challenge to be faced. A problem to be solved.
  • Identify the problem that needs to be solved. Seek solutions. Seek assistance and help of others.
  • Grounding, breathing “centering” techniques
  • Don’t turn in – reach out-Talk about your feelings

Unhealthy Ways of Coping

  • Withdrawing from people
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Smoking
  • Using drugs to relax
  • Excessive sleep
  • Taking out one’s stress on others (lashing out, anger, outburst)
  • Self harm

Pay Attention To

  • Sleep - A sleepless night increases stress levels. Deep sleep helps the brain clean out toxins (Lewis, 2019)
  • Diet: Eat healthy - Eating more fruits and vegetables improves emotional well-being (Samaraweera, et al, 2014)
  • Exercise - Triggers the growth of new brain cells

Do the Ordinary Things

As mundane as life can get at times, it is important to remember to attend to the ordinary.

Recall that stress and control are related. When we feel stress, it is typically a result of a lack of control over something in our life. Taking time to do some of the ordinary things helps us to take control. Also recall that one does not always have to get control over the thing that is stressing us out. We just need to get control over something, so choose the things you can control (diet, sleep, exercise, hobbies, etc…).

What Kids Know

  • Stress is uncomfortable
  • Must relieve – they develop strategies to avoid. For example, play a game on their phone; don’t show up, drug or alcohol use, etc… Some of these avoidance strategies are not positive.

What Kids Must Know

  • Interpret Stress Response (Why do I feel like I do?), as positive and not negative. See it as a challenge to be faced, and a problem to be solved
  • Key is to identify the factors causing the stress (this is very difficult for the developing brain) and to use it to our advantage and not to immediately respond by trying to avoid or relieve it.

In the moment stress relievers

  • Breathe
  • Move your body
  • Write it down, make a list
  • Laugh
  • Ask, "On a scale of 1-10, how much will this matter in 1 week?"
  • Practice positive self-talk
  • Prayer
  • Smile