Children and young people: mental health and wellbeing

Staying supportive and positive

The emergence of coronavirus means that children and young people’s daily routine has changed suddenly.  It is normal for them to feel unsettled about the current situation. 

While it is a genuinely challenging time, it is important to help children recognise the positive things that are happening, particularly the worldwide response and people working together to look after those with the virus and those trying to find a vaccine.  Point out the amazing community response and other ways people are helping each other in North Tyneside every day.

Top tips:

  • Create a routine and structure
  • Keep them connected with friends
  • Re-assure them they are safe
  • Let them talk about their worries
  • Teach them coping skills
  • Limit their exposure to news

Talking to children and young people

Talking honestly to them about COVID-19 is important and the NSPCC have produced a page (see here) for parents who want some helpful tips.

Some children and young people might find it difficult to understand what’s happening and why everyone is so worried. They may be anxious or concerned about their own health and that of older family members and friends. However, there are lots of ways we can look after children’s mental health and wellbeing at this time.

Guidance published by the government (see here) outlines how parents and carers can support children and young people’s mental wellbeing.

Barnardo's have some practical articles and great ideas for parents about wellbeing and family activities, click here.

The Parent Club website has some practical information and ideas to support your children, you can read this here.

You can find some excellent mental health and wellbeing resources in one place for professionals, parents, carers and children here.

North Tyneside wellbeing support

If a child or young person feels that they need some extra support for their wellbeing contact:

  • ChatHealth: to speak to a school nurse

ChatHealth is a secure and confidential text messaging service for young people aged 11-19 that allows patients to contact a health professional for advice and support easily and anonymously. You can text 07507 332 532 to chat with one of our school nurses.

  • Kooth.com

If you know a young person (11-25) in North Tyneside who is feeling low or struggling at this difficult time, please let them know that www.kooth.com is still available to help with confidential online support.  Young People can chat to friendly counsellors, read articles written by young people or join live moderated forums. 

  • Young Minds

Young Minds has developed age appropriate advice and guidance for young people on how to stay connected with friends, staying calm and dealing with stressful situations at home.  There’s lots of great advice and it’s all written in a way which appeals to young people. Visit www.youngminds.org.uk

Young people with existing mental health problems

Children and young people with an existing mental health problems may find the current uncertainty around the coronavirus outbreak particularly difficult. Their increased stress levels may lead to a change in their behaviour and their mental health needs.

If you are concerned about how to access support, you may want to think about the following actions:

  • Speak to your child or young person’s mental health team - discuss any concerns and check how care will continue to be accessed while you are at home. Update any safety and care plans as agreed.
  • Identify how the support your child or young person normally receives can be maintained - ask about having appointments by phone, text or online, and how their health professional can offer extra support if your child or young person needs it. Make sure it is clear if support is still needed for your child or young person.
  • Plan how you will access medication. You might be able to order repeat prescriptions by phone or you may be able to do this online using an app or website if your doctor’s surgery offers this.
  • Ask your pharmacy about getting medication delivered or think about who you could ask to collect it for you. The NHS website has more information about getting prescriptions for someone else (here) and checking if you have to pay for prescriptions (here).

You might also want to plan for your child or young person’s care if you become unwell, for example making sure a partner, friend, family member or neighbour is aware of important information including their care plan, medications and emergency numbers.

Parent and carer mental wellbeing

It’s important that as a parent you look after your own mental wellbeing as children and young people will often react to what is going on around them. For further advice and information go to the mental health and wellbeing page here.

Further information: North Tyneside Early Years and School Improvement Service

For further information about supporting children and young people through the COVID-19 situation, including family activities and supporting bereaved children and young people visit North Tyneside Early Years and School Improvement Service here.