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 below buttons to be directed to websites that may help parents 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's bothering them.
Even if you do not start a conversation, you'll 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's wrong. But if the child does not want to open up, let the subject go, then repeat the process at another time until they're 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.