Long before a pandemic changed our lives so profoundly, plans for the annual children’s mental health week (May 3-9) began.

In this year of COVID-19, anxious adults, disruptions to daily life and separation from friends and favorite places are causing stress among the youngest in our community. Awareness of emotional well-being is more timely and important than ever.

Just as the 9-11 attacks rocked our nation 20 years ago and became a defining moment for a generation, the world is now grappling with the influence of a pandemic. Our children will look back on this year as a time when everything seemed to change. It’s important to give children and teens the opportunity to express how they feel about these changes.

Adults with different personalities express themselves in different ways; so do children. One child may want to talk about fears, loneliness or boredom, but another may express these feelings through music or drawing. Some youth may want to write, rather than say aloud how they feel. Acknowledge feelings, no matter how they’re expressed.

The COVID-19 dashboard of https://www.dallascountyiowa.gov/ has mental health resources for both adults and children. Southwest Iowa Mental Health offers phone and online counseling; schedule an appointment at 712-243-2606.