Following school year, COVID-19 anxiety, depression could creep in during summer months

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- School is winding down. Teaching from home, though not easy, is coming to an end.

"[It's been] interesting for sure," Angel Whaley said.

Whaley has been teaching her four children at home that includes a 13-year-old, twin 8-year-olds and a 7-year-old.

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"To actually have to sit down and be teacher now has been kind of a struggle at times," she said.

Whaley calls herself a mom, first. Then, a teacher. When anxiety and stress rises, she's quick to take a breather.

"Fear is one of the strongest instincts we have and it's going to be hard to overcome that because this has been so scary," Dinah Meyer said,

Meyer is a psychology professor at Muskingum University. She says fear has been present since before everything shut down, which was exactly the case at the beginning of the pandemic when people began to buy as much toilet paper as they could. In a time of high anxiety, Meyer says toilet paper is, oddly, a comfort. It's cheap, plentiful and it doesn't expire. That mindset, she says, is the same everyone should take with their children to promote comfort, safety and reassurance.

"We can reassure our kids that we're doing the best we can," she said. "We can reassure our kids by returning to as much routine as we possibly can and that's how you're really going to meet that middle."

With summer upon us, Meyer says now is the time to remember a little anxiety is OK during the pandemic, but it's on parents to reel in your children and yourself.

"Emotion is contagious," she said. "So, when parents are anxious and worried and stressed that's going to transfer over to the kids. That happens almost inevitably."

One of the biggest triggers during the summer for depression and anxiety is friends and not being able to hang out.

"They definitely miss their friends a lot, for sure," Whaley said.

Whaley says her children stay in touch with friends through FaceTime chats and online gaming to help bridge the social distancing gaps. She hopes she's provided that sense of security to her children during anxious times. Still, she'll be happy when this pandemic is over.

"Yes," she said. "A hundred percent. A hundred percent."

For more information on mental health and how to manage stress and anxiety for you and your family, click here.

Coronavirus: What you need to know

There are now 34,639 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio; 2,117 people have died from the virus and 6,264 were hospitalized, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Breakdown of Ohio cases by county >>

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple of weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

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