In the first few years of life, children are experiencing the biggest period in brain development that they’ll ever experience in their lifetime. In fact, in these first three years of life, 80% of their brain is developed with more than one million neural connections forming every second. These connections are formed as the child responds to and interacts with the world around them. These early connections and experiences lay a strong or weak foundation for all future learning.
During the pandemic, families have experienced high levels of stress resulting from unemployment, food insecurity, housing and homelessness, lack of access to child care, isolation, illness, and so much more. This stress impacts infants and toddlers and can undermine their growth and development. As families learn to navigate the new normal we are all living in, maintaining child and family mental health has never been so important. As families are facing new challenges every day, it is important for them to support not only their own mental health, but also the mental health of their young child.
Every day, new resources and information on how to respond to the pandemic are popping up all over the news and social media. This can be overwhelming and difficult for families to discern which information is the most helpful and accurate. This is why Groundwork Ohio, in partnership with the Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addition Services, Ohio Children’s Hospital Association, and Vote for Ohio Kids recently published a new toolkit to support parent and child mental health during the pandemic.
The COVID-19 Mental Health Toolkit features the top 10 tips for parents and caregivers to consider and each tip is paired with a curated list of high-quality resources such as guides, videos, activities, and phone apps. While the toolkit supports young children and their families more broadly, there are resources specifically identified to support infant mental health and the mental health of children with special needs. After creating this toolkit, the partners hosted a webinar on May 7th to share the toolkit.