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Talking with children & youth about COVID-19

Limestone Learning Foundation

As conversations around COVID-19 increase, children and youth may experience a range of emotions. Our mental health team has assembled some information and tips to help families and those working with children to support our students.

You may notice that they appear:

  • Anxious
  • Worried about themselves, their family, and friends getting ill with COVID-19 
  • Preoccupied with illness
  • Have a need for reassurance
  • Tired
  • Have a range of physical complaints (e.g., stomach aches, headaches, etc)

Parents, family members, and other trusted adults can play an important role in helping children/youth make sense of what they hear in a way that provides developmentally-appropriate and factual information about the local situation from KFL&A Public Health, and helping children/youth to feel some level of control. We can also model for children and youth the importance of compassion, caring, and collective responsibility for the wellness of those around us.

It's important to note that all of us are affected to some degree by the pandemic, and depending on our personal circumstances there may be more or less cause for concern. In any case, remember to pause, and take the time you need and deserve to rest and relax, to be with family and friends, and to do the things that help you to stay well.

If at any time a student or family is looking for resources in their community, they can call 211 or go online to find programs and services in your community.


General principles for talking to children & youth

  • Remain calm and reassuring: Remember that children/youth will react to both what you say and how you say it. They will pick up cues from the conversations you have with them and with others.
  • Make yourself available to listen and to talk: Make time to talk. Be sure children know they can come to you when they have questions.
  • Avoid language that might blame others and lead to stigma: Remember that viruses can make anyone sick, regardless of a person’s race or ethnicity. Avoid making assumptions about who might have COVID-19.
  • Pay attention to what children see or hear on television, radio, or online: Consider reducing the amount of screen time focused on COVID-19. Too much information on one topic can lead to anxiety.
  • Provide information that is honest and accurate: Give children information that is truthful and appropriate for the age and developmental level of the child. For example, “COVID-19 is a new virus. Doctors and scientists are still learning about it. Recently, this virus has made a lot of people sick. Scientists and doctors think that most people will be OK, especially kids, but some people might get pretty sick. Doctors and health experts are working hard to help people stay healthy. For many people, being sick with COVID-19 would be a little bit like having the flu. People can get a fever, cough, or have a hard time taking deep breaths. Most people who have gotten COVID-19 have not gotten very sick. From what doctors have seen so far, most children don’t seem to get very sick. While a lot of adults get sick, most adults get better. If you do get sick, it doesn’t mean you have COVID-19. People can get sick from all kinds of germs. What’s important to remember is that if you do get sick, adults will help get you any help that you need.”
  • Talk to children about how some stories on COVID-19 on the Internet and social media may be based on rumors and inaccurate information.
  • Teach children everyday actions to reduce the spread of germs.
  • Remind children/youth to stay away from people who are coughing, sneezing or sick.
  • Remind them to cough or sneeze into a tissue or their elbow, then throw the tissue into the trash right away.
  • Remind them to keep their hands out of their mouth, nose, and eyes. This will help keep germs out of their body.
  • Discuss any new actions that may be taken to help protect children/youth and adults (e.g., increased hand washing, cancellation of events or activities).
  • Teach children to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
  • If soap and water are not available, teach them to use hand sanitizer. Supervise young children when they use hand sanitizer to prevent swallowing alcohol.
  • Keep things clean. Older children can help adults at home clean the things we touch the most, like desks, doorknobs, light switches, and remote controls.
  • If you feel sick, stay home. Just like you don’t want to get other people’s germs in your body, other people don’t want to get your germs either.

Community-Based Mental Health and Addictions Services

  • Addiction & Mental Health Services KFL&A – No walk-in services are being provided at this time and all groups have been put on hold. All clients continue to have access to staff/their workers by phone. The 24/7 Crisis Lines will continue as usual. The Napanee and Kingston offices will be closed to the public aside from booked appointments deemed to support providing essential services.  Clients arriving for these scheduled appointments will be screened. 
    • Crisis Line Numbers:
      • Kingston & Frontenac – 613-544-4229
      • Lennox & Addington – 613-354-7388

  • Kairos/Youth Diversion – Continued support via platforms of social media. Face-to-face contact will be offered in cases of crisis/emergency, but social distancing practices will be in place.

  • Kingston Health Sciences Centre
    • KGH Site – ITTP program is providing support via telephone only at this time
    • Hotel DieuNo non-essential face to face contact, but support is still being provided via phone/ OTN as available

  • Maltby Centre - Providing treatment and therapy by telephone and/or video for children, youth and young adults up until 24 years of age. In-person services have been suspended until further notice. Walk-in services are accessible via phone and/or video between 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m, Monday-Friday. Visit www.maltbycentre.ca to submit a request for service or call 1-844-855-8340. 
    • Crisis Numbers:
    • Monday-Friday – 613-546-8535 and let them know that your situation is urgent
    • After hours and weekends – 613-544-4229 and a service provider will help guide you to the right services

  • One Roof – Office at 426 Barrie St is closed. Youth Services staff will be working out of Home Base Housing Main Office at 540 Montreal Street, Monday-Friday 9 a.m.– 4:30 p.m. Telephone support is being provided at 613-776-9996.  

  • Resolve Counselling – All clinics and groups are postponed until further notice. Counselling services remain available by phone. For new client intakes call 613-549-7850 or email.

  • Sexual Assault Centre Kingston (SACK) – The centre is closed, but counselling services remain available to clients exclusively through video and telephone counselling. New referrals are being accepted through distance counselling and coordinators are available via 613-545-0762.  
    • Crisis Line - 613-544-6424 or 1-877-544-6424.
    • Chat and Text - 613-544-6424 Monday-Friday, 4-10 p.m. 
       
  • Lennox & Addington Youth Hub – Closed until further notice. Staff will be monitoring the Youth Hub phone number (613-308-9338) and email  and will respond to all inquiries in a timely manner.

  • Rural Frontenac Community ServicesYouth Hub and facilities are currently closed. Services are available by telephone between 9 a.m.– 4 p.m. Call Sarah at 613-532-3152.

  • Youthab - No face-to-face appointments are occurring. Clients are being provided with telephone support. Staff are providing regular check-ins via phone and providing resources through email.
  • Many family health teams remain open, however allied health are contacting patients via telephone.

 

Online Wellness Resources

  • Kids Help Phone – Children and youth can contact Kids Help Phone 24/7 from anywhere in Canada, via phonetextoronline chat.

  • Jack.org Youth Mental Health Resource Hub - Jack.org, School Mental Health Ontario and Kids Help Phone have partnered to create an online hub to help students take care of their mental health and look after one another.

  • Wellness Together Canada: Mental Health and Substance Use Support – free online resources, tools, apps and connections to trained volunteers and qualified mental health professionals when needed. 
     
  • Big White Wall – A free, anonymous online community, monitored 24/7 by trained professionals. Not intended for individuals in an emergency.

  • Bounce Back – A free online or telephone skill-building program designed to help adults and youth 15+ manage low mood, mild to moderate depression, anxiety, stress, or worry.
     
  • Moodgym – An online self-help program designed to help users prevent and manage symptoms of depression and anxiety.

  • Anxiety Canada - Free online, self-help, and evidence-based resources on anxiety, including resources specific to COVD-19. 
     
  • 12 Step Meetings - Online AA meetings in various formats, including email, chat room, audio/video, discussion forums, and telephone. 

 

Emergency Food & Meal Programs

  • Partners in Mission Food Bank – Please call 613-384-4534 for appointment, Monday-Friday. No walk in service.

  • Martha’s Table – Providing take-away hot meals Monday-Sunday from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. 

  • Lionhearts Skeleton Park – Take-home meals daily from 6-7 p.m.

  • Lunch by George – Providing bag lunches Monday-Friday 11 -11:30 a.m.

  • Salvation Army – Take-away prepared food baskets Monday-Friday 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.

  • St Vincent de Paul – Providing bag lunches Monday-Friday 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m. Food Pantry available by appointment.

  • St. Mary’s Cathedral Drop-In Centre – Light food/snacks Monday-Friday 1-4 p.m.

Image of emergency food and meal programs in the Counties of Frontenac and Lennox & Addington.


Emergency Shelter Options

  • Home Base Housing – No changes to In From the Cold, but screening for COVID-19 is taking place. There is no non-essential in-person contact at this time.

  • Kingston Youth Shelter – Relocated to 113 Lower Union Street so that social distancing can be practiced. Cannot intake any more youth until further notice, however counsellors can be reached via email. The Family Mediation Worker and Prevention Diversion Worker continue to provide support to families and youth via phone, text and email. They are unable to meet with clients face-to-face until further notice.

  • Interval House – No changes advertised at this time

The Limestone District School Board is situated on traditional territories of the Anishinaabe & Haudenosaunee.