Tips for pandemic-weary parents to build resilience

Cara McNulty and her two daughters embrace and smile at the camera.
Cara has seen a change in her daughters since the pandemic.

Cara McNulty has seen a change in her two teenage daughters over the last two years of the pandemic. “They don't get too excited about much,” she says. “When I've asked about it, they say, ‘If you get too excited about something and it gets canceled, it's just too hard to rebound.’”

After two years of disappointments, cancellations and the cumulative effects of what Cara, the President of Behavioral Health at Aetna, calls “micro losses,” her girls are worn out.

They echo the feelings of many Americans who still feel stressed as the pandemic enters its third year — and are now exhausted as a result.

Nearly a third of Americans are dealing with anxiety and depression according to a March 2022 Harris Poll, including about 1 in 4 younger adults and parents.

As caregivers, parents are especially fatigued, Cara says.

“Parents are experiencing this exhaustion even more than those individuals without children, because they're not only experiencing it for themselves, but they're also seeing it in their children,” she says. “As a parent, I worry about my kids and I'm also trying to manage my job and my community. So, we do see parents really struggling.”

According to a CVS Health white paper, 52% of parents say the pandemic had a negative impact on their mental health, compared to 44% of adults overall. In addition, 57% of parents noted burnout or mental exhaustion “somewhat often” since the summer.

Luz Gomez-Casseres, a MinuteClinic licensed mental health professional, says many parents question whether they're doing a good job of helping their children.

“The thing that I hear is, ‘How am I going to help my kid cope if I'm struggling myself?’” she adds.

Tips to build resilience

  • Be transparent about your needs

  • Set and hold boundries

  • Take regular breaks from work

  • Take breaks from social media and the news

  • Adopt healthy habits

Source: CVS Health

Services to help parents cope

That’s why MinuteClinic is making mental well-being services more accessible. Those services include in-store and virtual mental health counseling with licensed therapists at MinuteClinic locations inside select CVS HealthHUB stores.

Nearly two-thirds of parents (and 46% of adults) say they are likely to seek professional help for mental health, according to the same Harris Poll.

People can also fight feelings of burnout by developing their resilience, Luz says. “It's so important that we know that we do have the capacity to be resilient and that we can practice being resilient.”

MinuteClinic is ready to help, Cara adds.

“Mental health isn't something that we need to be in crisis to address. We need to be working on it every day.”

This article is part of the CVS Health-Harris Poll National Health Project which explores health attitudes and perceptions covering a wide range of relevant and timely topics.