Skip To Main Content

The impact of COVID-19 on those with health anxiety and OCD

The impact of COVID-19 on those with health anxiety and OCD
Anxiety spelled in wooden pieces

The current global pandemic is enough to make anyone feel worried and anxious about their own health, and the health of their loved ones. Uncertainty, disruption and unsettling news stories can cause those even without any pre-existing mental health conditions to experience poor mental health, particularly in the instance of self-isolating or financial worries. However, for those suffering with health anxiety or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), the present environment may feel overwhelming or intolerable.

Health Anxiety

Health anxiety can be an extremely challenging condition to live with and is often (but not always) linked with traumatic events such as experiencing a serious illness, the death of a loved one, or early life trauma. Sometimes, a child can develop health anxiety for no clear reason. Amongst children and young people, health anxiety can show itself in different ways such as;


  • Frequent aches, pains and perceived illnesses
  • Continually asking for reassurance from parents/carers about their health
  • Irrational worries about becoming sick or inured
  • Constant researching of germs and diseases
  • Requesting to stay home or come home early from school
  • Irrational fear of others who may be sick


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is another disabling anxiety condition which can affect children and young people in different ways. During this public health crisis, the constant emphasis on washing hands, social distancing and being hygienic may be extremely triggering for those with OCD and could lead those in recovery to experience a relapse of distressing symptoms. Common signs and symptoms of OCD include;

  • Repetitive behaviour, such as asking the same questions over and over
  • Obsessive about certain situations or objects
  • Retracing or counting steps
  • Irrational fear of catching germs
  • Obsessive washing of hands
  • Preoccupation with death, illness, or abstract concepts such as good/evil

Both health anxiety and OCD can be overwhelming and difficult conditions to manage at the best of times. However, in the midst of a global pandemic, managing these conditions can feel impossible for children, young people, and their families. So, how can you try to manage your symptoms or support your loved ones during this time?


What to do if you have health anxiety or OCD

  • Continue taking any prescribed medications unless advised otherwise by a doctor
  • Talk about your feelings with people at home – if you are self-isolating, make sure you regularly connect with people online or via the phone
  • Try to rationalise any compulsive/obsessive thoughts – it may help to ask someone you trust without your condition how they would react to certain news or advice
  • Limit your exposure to the news – if this is particularly triggering for you, think about asking someone you trust to keep you informed with any important updates instead
  • Keep yourself busy with something you enjoy
  • Consider practising meditation or yoga to help you manage high levels of anxiety

How to support your child with health anxiety or OCD

  • Talk to your child about COVID-19 openly and honestly – the fear of the unknown can often be worse than the fear itself
  • Try not to facilitate any irrational feelings or actions – for example, if your child refuses to open a door due to fear of germs, try not to strengthen the fear by opening all doors for them
  • Encourage your child to continue any therapy or treatment they are having – understand that this may change to online delivery for the time being
  • Continue with a routine as much as possible
  • Try to stay calm – your child will look to you to understand how to react in response to these worrying times

My Online Schooling is here for the whole family during this unprecedented and unsettling period. We continue to offer consistency and support wherever possible, but if you feel your child needs more dedicated support during these challenging times, please be in touch so we can advise you further.

Find out more

Enquire now

If you are looking for more information about My Online Schooling, please click below to contact our Admissions Team. 

enquire now

Learn more about My Online Schooling

Our story

Our values

School curriculum

Our Blog

Want to read more? Click below to return to the blog homepage.

school blog