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The impact of COVID-19 on mental health

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One in 20 South African children is living with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD),3 a chronic mental health condition. This condition is characterised by difficulty paying attention, impulsive behaviour and hyperactivity.4 These characteristics can impact a child's academic performance and relationships with other children.

ADHD is a misunderstood condition.3 If not treated, symptoms can worsen, making it difficult for them to stay focused. ADHD symptoms can also make children more,5

  • Disorganised,
  • Forgetful,
  • Easily distracted, and
  • Impatient.

Although there is no cure for ADHD, treatment is available. Parents and guardians of children living with ADHD can also use techniques to help manage the symptoms and help children succeed despite their diagnosis.3

Tips for parents and guardians of children with ADHD

  • Routine is crucial6
    Set up a timetable for chores, homework, meal times, TV, playtime and bedtime. Make sure you and your child follow through on the schedule.
  • Identify household chores6
    Giving a child household chores will provide them with a sense of responsibility and boost their self-esteem.
  • Reduce screen time7
    Schedule online time and time to play video games, and don't deviate from the plan. It's easy to get distracted and lose track of time, which can lead to a dependency of their devices and negatively impact their sleep routine.
  • Get active8
    Encourage your child to spend time outside and do light exercise. Fresh air and being active can burn off excess energy and increase their concentration.
  • Small, achievable tasks8
    Children can feel overwhelmed when faced with complex tasks. Break difficult tasks into smaller achievable goals, and encourage them to meet the smaller goals. Praise them at each milestone.
  • Explain, don't command8
    Always explain why tasks should be done in a certain way. Use positive words when answering questions. Commanding children to do things can add to their anxiety.

Parents and guardians should continue monitoring children's behaviour to make sure they're doing well, and taking their medication as prescribed. Relapsing from ADHD medication can result in,9

  • Symptoms reappearing or worsening
  • Medication taking longer to work when resumed.

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