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‘It’s a very scary virus’: Child fearful after he, his family test positive for COVID-19

Mental health experts believe anxiety heightened when going through the unknown

SAN ANTONIO – M.J. Borsvold, 10, was faced with a difficult reality when he learned he and three other family members tested positive for COVID-19 in June.

“I liked to think that I was going to be OK, but there was another part of me that was thinking that I was going to die,” he said.

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His mother believes she and her husband brought the virus home to their children.

M.J. feared what the virus would do to him and his family.

“The thing that I was most scared of is like losing everything that I have like my family and my friends,” M.J. said.

However, mental health experts believe those feelings are normal to have. Ashley Jesse, a licensed professional counselor and program director at the Children’s Bereavement Center, said people experience anxiety when going through the unknown.

“The way our minds work tends to go to the worst-case scenario,” Jesse said.

Jesse said past experiences with death and trauma could lead to deeper issues. She says children could regress, act out or become socially withdraw.

Jesse urges parents to be aware of changes in their child’s behavior.

“Those are also signs that can signal they may need to talk to a professional counselor,” she said

Jesse encourages parents to talk about feelings with their children and use resources to help reduce stress. She said despite the rise in COVID-19 cases, parents should reassure their children.

“Just because you’re sick with this scary illness doesn’t mean you’re going to die,” Jesse said.

M.J. has fully recovered and remains grateful for his family’s support. He wants to remind other kids his age it’s OK to be scared.

“For people that are super worried, it’s fine. It’s a very scary virus,” M.J. said.

CBST advises parents to seek counseling for their children if they begin to experience depression, worsened anxiety or regression.