As pediatric resident doctors, we recognize the stress, fear and frustration that people are feeling with the recent outbreak of COVID-19. We work with children, adolescents and youth under the age of 18, and we are used to seeing pandemic-related distress manifest in anxiety, depression, substance use, eating disorders, and other mental health illnesses. As the COVID-19 cases climb in school-aged children and teens, we have increasing concern for their mental and physical health and we call on you for your support.
One of the most powerful messages that we have heard throughout the pandemic is the importance of being kind and compassionate towards one another. Unfortunately, we are currently seeing a decline in kindness and an increase in bullying – especially cyber bullying. We believe that this is not a time to place blame or judgement on a particular generation.
Following Pink Shirt Day and anti-bullying week, we urge you to think before you post content to social media that may unintentionally result in a negative impact on an individual’s mental health. This is important now more than ever. Negative statements will not fix the pandemic, but they can leave individuals feeling alone, sad, and at-fault.
We encourage you to practise intentional kindness, to reach out to those who are isolating and to provide support through positive messages. Please recognize that people are trying their best to follow the public health orders in place and that no one is choosing to contract or spread the virus. If you witness bullying or cyberbullying taking place, please do not take part or ignore it. Instead, please reach out to the individual in need and let them know that you are there for them.
Parents, caregivers, adults, and children: be kind, be compassionate, and be supportive of your peers. Now more than ever, we should be following the advice of the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, and THINK: Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it inspiring? Is it necessary? Is it kind?
Please stay positive during this time of uncertainty and get through this together! And remember, always choose kindness.
Dr. JM Mooney, Dr. AA Lamond, Dr. KB McNally, Dr. AK Roberts, & Dr. KM Smith, on behalf of the Pediatric Resident Physicians Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre. ■
This letter to the editor was published in The Telegram on March 3, 2021.