More stress and less help: survey shows devastating effects of pandemic on young families

While the physical effects of those stricken by COVID-19 are bad enough, a new survey indicates that parents and children are suffering from high levels of stress caused by the pandemic.

Tina Chapman, whose son Blake has special needs, live in Lachute, which is currently classified as an orange zone. While Blake's school has had no COVID-19 cases, both Chapman and her son have been worried constantly since the pandemic began.

“I have to hold it together most of the time so my anxiety doesn't elevate my son's anxiety,” she said. “It doesn't make it easy. There's times when I will hide to scream into a pillow or just break down for a few minutes and then come back to reality.”

According to the new poll, conducted by Leger for the Early Childhood Observatory, 52 per cent of parents said the pandemic has had a negative impact on their children, 66 per cent of parents of young children in Quebec said the possibility of their daycare or school closing is an added stress and 26 per cent of parents said their level of stress over finances has risen.

“We know that parents are stressed and we know it's difficult for them to remain calm with their children,” said Early Childhood Observatory Director Fannie Dagenais. “We know they can't count on the support of their loved ones because of the distancing measures.”

Almost half of surveyed parents said they can't count on their usual support systems. Mother of three Elise Bonneville knows the feeling.

“People are asked to be more isolated so if you think about a young family welcoming a child, usually what we need is people around us to support us and bring information,” she said. “It's a new chapter in our lives, having a new child or a young child and what is happening is that people are more isolated and they don't know where to go for help.”

The Early Childhood Observatory's Parent's Helpline, which is available 24/7 for parents with children up to the age of 20, can be reached at 1-800-361-5085. 

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