The coronavirus crisis leaves its mark on children

The restrictive measures resulting from the coronation crisis have drastically changed the daily lives of children and adolescents, according to a study being conducted at the University of Innsbruck and its context examining the psychosocial effects of the crisis on children.

Without contact with friends, without a normal school life, with the fear of possible infection of grandparents and various oppressive situations in the house itself, the coronary crisis has profoundly affected the lives of children and adolescents.

The real threat of the virus was less aggravating, but rather the side effects, said Katherine Zeveke, director of the University Clinic for Children and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Innsbruck.
According to her, the longer exclusion from their normal daily life harms children and adolescents in their cognitive, emotional and social development and leaves traces that are already visible and will appear much more after the removal of restrictions.

A study is currently underway to examine the effects on children in Tyrol and South Tyrol in kindergartens, elementary and high schools, and to develop a screening tool for early detection of stress.

Katherine Zeveque points out that whether and how children feel psychologically burdened depends on their mental environment, as children have more worries when adults also have concerns such as mental illness, job loss, part-time work or financial difficulties. Signs that the weight has become too heavy can be fear, insomnia, coercion, malaise and depression, as well as increased drug use and uncontrolled use of the Internet.

She explains that even if the measures are increasingly relaxed, we are still a long way from normalcy, school activities are still limited and summer vacation care is often not regulated. How these challenges can be overcome depends to a large extent on the general family situation and, in addition, crises always affect the socially disadvantaged, he notes.

For its part, the Austrian Society of Pediatrics and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy is calling for schools and childcare facilities to be fully reopened, in line with hygiene measures, in order to prevent their families from further serious effects on their children.