Resource eBlast April 2020
for families of children and youth with special health care needs
Expressing, Coping, Reframing: Addressing the Mental Health of “Quaranteens” in the Time of COVID-19
The coronavirus has turned normal routines upside down for most of us, and can’t help but impact the mental health of everybody. This issue of the eBlast looks at the special concerns around helping teens cope during this stressful time—from “in my feelings” to moving forward in times of uncertainty.
In My Feelings
“I haven’t seen my son today.” Have you said that, or something similar, about your teen recently? Retreating to the sanctuary of their room is typical teenage behavior regardless of a pandemic, but hiding out in their room may be even more pronounced right now. There is nothing more important for teen development that social connection…and that has been altered drastically. For teens with special health care needs and disabilities, the changes are complex, layered, and can be more challenging. Of course many teens are nimble and adept at connection through technology so they are still connecting with friends…but how do they feel? Are they handling their feelings in a healthy way?
Try to get your teen and whole family talking about their feelings. Give space for your teen to be “in my feelings” and help them to share their anger about losing prom/graduation/school/activities; anxiety; or sadness about not being able to see friends in person.  If you need a neutral and relaxed way to start this conversation so your teen doesn’t feel like they are in trouble, try playing In My Feelings -- a Drake song as a conversation starter.

Immediate Help!
If your teen is able to share their feelings and expresses very concerning thoughts such as self-harm or suicide, seek help immediately. Here are some resources that your teen can access on their own when they need someone to talk to at any time of day or night:
Youthline: Teens can call, email, text 24/7 (4-10 pm PST staffed by teens, all other times adults available to respond)

The Trevor Project: Young people in crisis, feeling suicidal, or in need of a safe and judgment-free place to talk can call, text, or chat 24/7

Other resources for youth in a variety of crisis situations can be found at Teen Central
Basic Coping Tips for Teens with Stress and Anxiety
NOTE: in REFRAME section there are additional tools that teens and their supports can use to help organize themselves and put these tips into place.

BREAKS: from news about the pandemic
CARE: take care of yourself and others, kindness helps
EAT: healthy, well-balanced meals
MOVE: exercise, breathe, stretch
SLEEP: get enough sleep and keep a regular sleep schedule
AVOID: alcohol and drugs
ENJOY: unwind and do what you enjoy
CONNECT: with those you trust about concerns and feelings
The class of 2020 was born in the year 9/11 occurred and graduate in the year of a pandemic—bookended by challenge. Your teen with special health care and disabilities has likely already faced plenty of challenges since birth, so they already know that life is full of ups and downs. However, they may not have fully processed it or are still working on making sense of it. The pandemic may provide us all with more time and space to dive deeper and explore what to do with situations where there is a lot you CAN’T change, but some things that you CAN change. How do you help your “quaranteen” cope and learn to move forward in times of uncertainty? How to help them build resilience, find joy/hope, and REFRAME?
Reframe Part 1

Reframe Part 2
  • HOW TO” Reframe: Tangible tips and tools for supporting college students during coronavirus crisis—so good it can be helpful for all with links to organizing self, space and time.
  • UMASS MEDICAL CENTER Transition to Adulthood Center for Research: This website is full of resources and links for college and high school age kids AND their supporters. Examples: how to handle new online learning; dealing with altered routes to life beyond high school; finding new ways to connect, and much more.
If this email was forwarded to you, click here to sign up for future Resource eBlasts.