Rotorua | New Zealand


COVID-19 & Supporting Mental Health With Your Children

Wednesday, March 18th, 2020 in News.

The arrival of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, in New Zealand has
caused heightened levels of stress and anxiety. We have talked to students
about practical ways in which they can help prevent the spread of the
coronavirus. Good hygiene practice, including regular washing and
thorough drying of hands and good cough etiquette have been discussed.

To support reducing stress and improving mental health, I will meet with
every year level to communicate the following key messages. Please
reinforce them at home.

  1. It is normal to feel distressed and experience symptoms of stress in this time.
  2. The NZ Government, Rotorua Lakes Council and John Paul College are
    taking every reasonable measure to reduce the risk of Covid-19 spreading. Our Health system is well prepared to support anyone who becomes ill.
  3. In the unlikely event a young person was infected, it is unlikely that they would become seriously ill.
  4. The fear of COVID-19 is amplified by not knowing what it is, how it
    spreads and what we can do to protect ourselves. Children should be
    encouraged to research and discuss this with parents. Knowledge reduces fear.
  5. Reduced physical contact does not mean reduced social contact. More
    family conversations and use of “social media” can be used positively to reduce stress and anxiety. But beware of misinformation. Stick to the official information.
  6. There are many fantastic alternatives to social gatherings which families can do, such as watching movies at home, preparing meals together, going for a walk in the forest, reading that novel you promised yourself etc. In these unique circumstances we need to find more creative ways to relax and enjoy ourselves as families while keeping physical distance in our community.
  7. Worrying and talking about COVID-19 should not be a full-time job. There are many amazing and positive things happening in the lives of your children. Please make them the centre of your conversations.
  8. China is coming out of its COVID-19 crisis, which is very promising for the rest of the world, including New Zealand. If we remain vigilant, positive and do what is asked of us, this pandemic will eventually pass.
  9. We have a well-resourced education system in New Zealand with dedicated and creative teachers. No matter what happens -including possible school closures – rest assured that your child will still receive a high-quality education.

Patrick Walsh