Talking with Children: Tips for Caregivers, Parents, and Teachers During Infectious Disease Outbreaks
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, April 2020
When children and youth watch news on TV about an infectious disease outbreak, read about it in the news, or overhear others discussing it, they can feel scared, confused, or anxious—as much as adults. This is true even if they live far from where the outbreak is taking place and are at little to no actual risk of getting sick. Young people react to anxiety and stress differently than adults. Some may react right away; others may show signs that they are having a difficult time much later. As such, adults do not always know when a child needs help.
This tip sheet will help parents, caregivers, and teachers learn some common reactions, respond in a helpful way, and know when to seek support.
In the event of a mental health or substance use crisis, call to connect with a licensed counselor, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Bilingual support and medications to assist with recovery are available.