Life is full of uncertainty, and the COVID-19 pandemic has increased stress and anxiety levels in children and adults in an unprecedented way. Now is the time to do all we can to protect our mental health and the mental health of those we love. Children, teens, and young adults are particularly affected by intensified uncertainty.
Click on the links below to access websites that may help parents and carers manage their children's mental health during this time.
Schools and Families Advice Line:
The ‘Schools and Families Advice Line’ (SFAL) is a new service established to provide emotional wellbeing advice and early help to children and young people, school staff and families during the Covid-19 pandemic. It can be really worrying when you, or someone you know is going through a difficult time. If you feel this service could help, please call our Single Point of Access (SPA) who will take your details before passing them onto our call back service.
The Youth Mental Health Project:
Child Mind Institute:
Children's Mental Health Campaign:
Talking to children about feelings:
If you're worried about a child, encouraging them to talk can be very helpful.
Children express themselves through play as well as words. You can learn a lot about how they're feeling by simply spending time with them and watching them play.
Stressed and upset children often play fighting games with their toys. Comment on this by saying, "There are a lot of fights going on" or "It seems pretty frightening". This can help to get them talking about what is bothering them.
Even if you do not start a conversation, you will be making the child feel more comfortable with you, paving the way for them to open up to you about their problems.
If you can get them talking, gently ask what is wrong. But if the child does not want to open up, let the subject go, then repeat the process at another time until they are ready to tell you what's bothering them.
If your child is worried about scary news:
In this digital age, it is virtually impossible to stop children from finding out about upsetting news events, such as terrorism, war and violent crime, that they may find traumatic.
Advice from the Mental Health Foundation includes:
- Do not try to blackout all exposure to news; this is both unlikely to succeed and could actually increase their fears.
- Be truthful about what has happened.
- Let them know it is normal to be concerned and tell them you are also concerned.
- Encourage them to ask questions if they seem unclear about what has happened.
- Reassure them that you will do everything you can to keep them safe.
The Mental Health Foundation has more advice about talking to your children about scary world news.