Children and teens could face ‘no mask’ anxiety as restrictions ease

Children and teens could face ‘no mask’ anxiety as restrictions ease
Some children may begin to feel mask anxiety as they see fully vaccinated people remove their mask, while they have to keep theirs on. (Source: WVIR)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - New guidelines are allowing fully vaccinated individuals to ditch their masks, but for some kids and teens, seeing others let their mask go may cause anxiety.

At the beginning of the pandemic, many younger children, especially those with sensory disabilities, struggled with anxiety or stress wearing a mask themselves, or seeing others masked. Now, as children see others take their mask off in public places, while dealing with pandemic-induced anxiety and stress unrelated to mask-wearing, doctors like Dr. Costi Sifri with UVA Health, say easing them into activities that do not require masks could curb any fears they may have.

“We’re kind of fortunate that we’re at this point in the pandemic and its occurring as we’re heading into summer and children get to spend a lot of time outdoors. I think that’s going to be a place for kids to feel more comfortable unmasking,” Dr. Sifri said.

For example, introducing children to organized sports where children are interacting with others in a space without a mask may alleviate any ‘no-mask’ anxiety they may have, Sifri said.

Children under the age of 12 cannot yet receive a vaccine and will likely be required to wear masks in public settings like schools until that changes.

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