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Dr. Ashley Miller, Children Mental Health during COVID

How to Help you Kid’s Mental Health During COVID

E16 | 41:45

Dr. Ashley Miller–Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist, Author , BC Children's Hospital


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Dr. Ashley Miller is a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the BC Children’s Hospital.  She specializes in family therapy and psychotherapy for children and teens. Dr. Miller is a speaker, award-winning educator and co-author of the book “What to Say to Kids When Nothing Seems to Work” COVID-19 has changed how our children interact with the world around them. Isolation, restrictions and lockdowns have altered their perceptions, and can ultimately affect our kid’s mental health.

With Schools closed, social contacts limited, and outside activities cancelled, children have lost structure and peer connections that are so important for their well-being. Quarantines have decreased freedom and privacy.

Screen time and online activity has increased significantly along with the risks associated with it. Parents are being asked to help home school while working from home and do it with no access to their usual support system. Creating further distress for the whole family is potential income loss, economic hardship and the stress of protecting loved ones from getting sick. This family tension negatively impacts the family and the kid’s mental health while increasing the chances of domestic violence against children. With a greater impact on those in more vulnerable socio-economic groups.

While so much of what is talked about around COVID is negative, there are also positive impacts to children from the current situation.

Children are learning online, using more digital technologies and acquiring new skills that will benefit them for the rest of their life.     There is more family time, richer relationships, greater parent involvement and the opportunity for nurturing positive growth in children.   Other benefits include a reprieve for parents and children from an over-structured and over-booked lifestyle of schools and sporting activities, a greater appreciation for nature and the outdoors and more chances to teach our children domestic skills like cooking, cleaning and household chores.

As part of her work, Dr. Miller runs support groups for teens with depression, and is passionate advocate for family and caregiver involvement in the mental health treatment of children and youth.  Ashley is also the author of a new book, “What to Say to Kids When Nothing Seems to Work”.    In this book, parents will find real-life examples that help them understand their kids’ behavior and emotions.  This book provides insights on how parents can make educated guesses about what their children are feeling, validating those feelings and providing concrete support strategies to help manage current and future situations in a way that leaves everyone feeling better.

In this episode, we talk to Dr. Ashley Miller about the impacts of the pandemic on your children’s mental health and how you can support and manage their emotions and behaviours.


Resources & Links

Book:  What to Say to Kids When Nothing Seems to Work – A Practical Guide for Parents and Caregivers

Curbing the impacts of social isolation on children

Is it typical teen moodiness or depression?  Dr. Ashley Miller shares tips


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