• Vanessa De Jesus Guzman

Collective Trauma & Kids During the Time of COVID

pan·dem·ic: (of a disease) prevalent over a whole country or the world.

Our lives have been marked and changed by this collective reality we’re all experiencing - albeit in different ways. Some of our lives have been slightly disrupted such as working from home, our gyms being closed, and remembering to take that darn mask everywhere we go. Others’ lives have been flipped upside down as they have lost their jobs, or more importantly, lost friends and family members from COVID-19 or from complications of the virus.

trau·ma: a deeply distressing or disturbing experience.

Even pre-pandemic, most of the population had experienced various degrees of trauma. Traumatic events range in intensities from a car accident or death of a family member, to experiencing natural disasters or war.

It is commonly known soldiers can experience post-traumatic stress disorder after being at war. However, it may be less commonly known that emotional abuse, divorce, substance abuse, and neglect are also potentially traumatic events.

Adverse Childhood Experiences

When children under the age of 18 experience traumatic events such as those mentioned, they are known as Adverse Childhood Experiences - or ACEs for short. ACEs are broken down in 3 different categories which include:

  1. Abuse: emotional, physical, sexual

  2. Household challenges: domestic violence, mental illness, parent separation or divorce

  3. Neglect: emotional or physical

ACEs can have long lasting effects on health, behaviors, and overall life potential if they are not addressed at a young age. They have been shown to link to chronic health issues, mental illness and substance misuse/abuse in adulthood, if they are not addressed or helped.⠀

Learn: Helping Our Youth Now

As we continue to live through this pandemic, parents, teachers, educators, mental health professionals, and all who work with children have the responsibility to learn about trauma, what it looks like, and how to help our children who may have already had ACEs in their lives, and are now even more impacted with the pandemic.

The National Center for Youth Issues has published an amazing resource called Trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences: 15-Minute Focus Brief Counseling Techniques that Work. This resource is an informative must-have for teachers and school counselors, as it helps them become familiar with ACEs and how to help our kids right now. Not only is the book an easy read, it also has a plethora of resources on trauma, social-emotional learning, and ACEs.

Grow: Looking Forward

In our communities we can help children and families who experience ACEs by providing a quality education to all children, by providing strong and lasting mentorships, and creating impacting change. We can ALL start right now by continuing to learn how we can help those in need, and inspiring others with our growth by implementing self-care and emotional regulation for ourselves, so that we can best help OUR KIDS.

Of course… if you feel as though you or your child need more assistance, seeking mental health help from a licensed professional is an awesome way to take care of our mental health.

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Vanessa De Jesus Guzman is an Educator and Licensed Professional Counselor with nearly two decades of experience in working with children and families. She is the CEO of Free to Be Mindful - located in Ridgefield, NJ - which provides counseling and mindfulness education for kids, parents and educators.

Vanessa has been featured on the Today Show and is passionate about helping others Learn, Grow & Inspire… all with mindfulness in mind.