Resources to Support Native Children
May 20, 2020 - We recognize that tribal and Indigenous people are known to be some of the most resilient people in the world. But, sometimes, even the most resilient can feel overwhelmed by life circumstances.
COVID-19 has brought us a deep life challenges that no one expected. May is national Mental Health Awareness Month, and we wanted to share some tribal resources to help support Native children and teenagers who may be anxious or scared about COVID-19.
All children are sensitive to stress in their family and react to changes in their normal routine. Young children may ask why people are wearing masks. Native pre-teens or teenagers may be scared, but “talking” about their fear may not be their preferred way to lessen their anxiety. Some changes in their behavior may be normal reactions to abnormal times. Other changes, in words or behavior, may give you hints that they struggling to make sense of things and need your help.
We also recognize that many Native children and teens have already suffered losses in their lives, and COVID-19 could shake their fear of losing someone again. Give them facts about the COVID-19 status in your community and explain how your family is staying safe. Let young people know how valued they are and reach out for a hug or touch. They will long remember your words and compassion during this unsettling time.
Here are three resources:
- Talking to Your Kids About COVID-19 was developed by the Urban Indian Health Institute (a division of the Seattle Indian Health Board) with drawings by a young Native artist.
- Talking with Children About Coronavirus was developed by the Urban Indian Health Institute for use by tribal families.
- Managing Fears and Anxiety around the Coronavirus (COVID-19) was developed by the Harvard University Health Services and provides helpful insight into common reactions and tips on ways to manage and cope.
The New England MHTTC is here to help. We have many tribal resources for times of hope or distress. All our services are available at no cost to your community. Let us know what may be helpful to you and your community. In the meantime, know that we care and are here for you.
Photo credit: Photo provided courtesy of the Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribe