By Sophie James on 20 May 2020
This week is our national Mental Health Awareness week that comes around annually. This week however is different to all of the previous years, as this awareness week also falls on our 9th week of Lockdown in the UK, as a result of Covid-19.
It is no secret that as a result of the lockdown, most of us have struggled some what with our mental health and this includes our children too. Infact, the Centre for Mental Health has predicted that mental health issues are going to rise over the next 2 years due to Covid-19.
It is essential that as a parent or professional, that we understand this and support children’s mental health as well as their physical health.
How are our children being affected?
Charities across the UK such as Childline, have reported that young people are struggling with their emotions and mental wellbeing as a result of the lockdown. Places2Be, a charity in which primarily supports young people’s mental health found that as a result of the lockdown: 54% of young people contacting them wanted to discuss feeling lonely and isolated, 48% raised concerns and worries about their school and their work and 42% were worried about their relationship with their family and friends.
Figures which I’m sure are upsetting for many parents and professionals, however, firstly – these feelings are normal, we are feeling them as adults throughout this lockdown, so’ are our children. What we do with this information, is ensure that we are able to support them and yourself through this as much as possible.
Advice, Guidance and Resources:
Now is the time to browse the web! If you are concerned over your own or your child’s mental health, this week is a great time to look what’s out there. The attention that mental health awareness week brings means that there is currently hundreds of resources out there to help lockdown run a little smoother.
For example, the Mental Health Foundation’s website has some fantastic resources providing advice and guidance on how to look after and support children and young people’s mental health, here are a few examples:
- Talking to your children about the coronavirus pandemic: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/coronavirus/talking-to-children
- Coping with coronavirus: a guide for young people https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/coronavirus/coping-coronavirus-guide-young-people
- Parenting during the coronavirus outbreak: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/coronavirus/parenting-during-coronavirus-outbreak
- A mini book to help and reassurance young children over Covid-19 (Available in a variety of languages) https://www.mindheart.co/descargables
- Activities to improve the wellbeing of your family: https://www.place2be.org.uk/our-services/parents-and-carers/coronavirus-wellbeing-activity-ideas-for-families/
- Children and Young Peoples Mental Health Coalition: Covid-19 and children and young people’s mental health: https://cypmhc.org.uk/children-and-young-people/
Tips and Suggestions to Support Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing:
The important thing to know is, there is no right or wrong way to feel throughout this. However, if your children need a mental health boost, here are some tips or things to consider when supporting their mental health and wellbeing throughout this lockdown.
- Speak to your children and pupils, ask them about their worries and concerns and have a honest and open conversation with them.
- Take every day as it comes - Accept that today might be a bad day or even week for your children – and that’s ok! They are human and its ok to not feel 100% all the time.
- Its ok for you and your family to have ‘lazy, unproductive’ days in lockdown!
- Encourage your children to stay active or be outside as much as possible, even if that’s in your own garden.
- If your children are old enough, encourage them to create a daily list of tasks that they need or would like to do that day so that they feel accomplished and some structure re-mains. If they are too young, create a list for them.
- Encourage your children to reach out to friends and family that you haven’t spoken to in a while, re-connect.
- Encourage your children to read a book or take up a new hobby.
Finally, remember that this won’t last forever – See the light at the end of the tunnel but also try and get your family or your pupils to see the positives of this situation. (This could be an activity that you could do as a family – the pro’s and con’s of lockdown). It is unlikely that you will get this much time again to bond at home with your family, have the time to self-reflect and re-connect with old friends and hobbies.
If you are a parent struggling with looking after yourself mentally throughout this lockdown, take a look at another blog written by one of our Educational Psychologists focusing on how to look after yourself as a parent during Covid-19.