Coronavirus and Mental Health
10 TIPS TO HELP MAINTAIN YOUR OWN MENTAL HEALTH WITH THE CORONAVIRUS
Tip #1: Remind yourself this is only a temporary period
The key to this period is to remember it is only temporary. At some point things will return to normal, so you only need to plan for the next few weeks. You can make plans on how to get the most out of your day, knowing that it is only a temporary measure.
Tip #2: Exercise
This has a proven record at helping to improve a person’s mental health. According to Stephen Buckley, head of information at Mind you should try and get exposure from the outside world. He says: "Our physical health and mental health are linked so try to create a routine that includes some physical exercise.
Tip #3: Keep in touch with family and friends
Technology nowadays means you don’t need to cut yourself off from the outside world. Anxiety UK says: "If you feel like you are beginning to struggle, take some time to call a friend or family member. Talk about how you’re feeling. If you don’t have anyone to speak to you can call emotional support lines like Samaritans or SANEline."
Tip #4: Use your garden
Fresh air also brings mental health benefits. You can use open spaces to collect your thoughts, do exercise, play games with your children and can even use it as an open study space.
Tip #5: Help the community
If you feel that you have a lot of free time you can use it in order to help the community. You can bring out your creative side to help local businesses, or you could volunteer your time to help people in need of support.
Tip #6: Try different things
Sitting in front of a screen is not the best way to spend large amounts of time. Among the things you can try could include downloading podcasts, watching box sets, doing arts and crafts, meditation, cooking, reading and writing. Find out why reading is essential here.
Tip #7: Try to have fun
You can improve your mental health by doing things that you enjoy. Whether that is listening to your favourite music, watching your favourite film, playing your favourite games and eating your favourite foods.
Tip #8: Get plenty of sleep
Emma Carrington, information manager at Mental Health UK says: "As far as possible, try to maintain as much as a routine as you can. Wake up and go to bed at healthy times to make sure you get enough sleep."
Tip #9: Maintain a good diet
You may find yourself wanting to eat unhealthy snacks and eating unbalanced meals as a way to entertain yourself.
Tip #10: Avoid the news where possible
A constant negative stream of news can affect your mental health, so you can limit this intake. The World Health Organisation says: "A near-constant stream of news reports about an outbreak can cause anyone to feel anxious or distressed. Seek information updates and practical guidance at specific times during the day."
Useful Links at this time:
- National Autistic Society – guidance and helpline for parents’, young people and staff: https://www.autism.org.uk/services/nas-schools/vanguard/news/2020/march/coronavirus-(covid-19)-advice.aspx
- Mencap - Easy Read guide to Coronavirus: https://www.mencap.org.uk/sites/default/files/2020-03/Information%20about%20Coronavirus%20ER%20SS2.pdf
- Place2Be – Guide to helping parents answer questions from their children and to support family wellbeing: https://www.place2be.org.uk/about-us/news-and-blogs/2020/march/coronavirus-information-for-children/
- Young Minds - Talking to your child about Coronavirus and 10 tips from their Parents Helpline to support family wellbeing: https://youngminds.org.uk/blog/talking-to-your-child-about-coronavirus/
- Carers UK - Guidance for carers: https://www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice/health/looking-after-your-health/coronavirus-covid-19
- Covibook – an interactive resource designed to support and reassure children aged 7 and under, designed to help children explain and draw the emotions that they might be experiencing during the pandemic: https://www.mindheart.co/descargables
- Amaze - information pack for parents https://amazesussex.org.uk/faqs-about-the-coronavirus-for-parent-carers-of-children-with-send-brighton-hove/
- Public Health England have produced an easy read version of their Advice on the coronavirus for places of education. You can download it here.
Kooth.com - online support for young people
We would like to remind you of the availability of our online service to support the wellbeing and resilience of your students.
Kooth is a web based confidential support service available to young people. Kooth provides a safe and secure means of accessing mental health and wellbeing support designed specifically for young people.
Kooth offers young people the opportunity to have a text-based conversation with a qualified counsellor. Counsellors are available from 12noon to 10pm on weekdays and 6pm to 10 pm at weekends, every day of the year on a drop-in basis. Young people can access regular booked online counselling sessions as needed. Outside counselling hours’ young people can message our team and get support by the next day.
When students register with Kooth they will have support available to them now and in the future. Support can be gained not only through counselling but articles, forums and discussion boards. All content is age appropriate, clinically approved and fully moderated.
To find out more visit www.Kooth.com where young people can register and others can find out more about the service.
You can also view a short video about the service at: https://vimeo.com/318731977/a9f32c87de.
HELPING CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE WITH CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) ANXIETY
If the ongoing spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) is causing anxiety, stress and uncertainty for grownups, imagine how our children feel! Depending on their age and media exposure, children may know more about the virus than grownups think and even if unaware, children still might sense tension and anxiety from adults around them.
- Model a calm, measured approach
- Your children look to you for cues on how to respond to various situations. It can help to stop and think what message you are conveying with your actions. What you say and do about COVID-19, current prevention efforts, and related events can either increase or decrease your children’s anxiety. Taking reasonable hygiene precautions, not talking about it excessively and carrying on confidently with your day is the best approach.
- Parents who show good coping skills can help reassure kids that they are safe. After all, kids learn from their parents how to react in new situations.
- Remember that kids make mistakes. If your child accidentally does not wash their hands or doesn’t sneeze into their elbow, gently remind them. Scaring children with the potential consequences of their mistakes is not helpful.
- Adults should model self-care behaviours: Maintain activities and sleep schedules. It’s also helpful for grownups to limit their own media consumption around COVID-19 and stick to a few trusted resources such as the NHS and Public Health outlets only once or twice in a day to prevent information overload and anxiety.
- It’s important to really listen to your children about what they have heard, what they understand, and what questions they have. Sometimes it is hard to know how much our children have really been exposed to by the media, at school, and by their peers. Depending on their ages, children will understand information differently and if there are gaps in their knowledge, they may fill them in with the wrong information. Try to find a quiet, relaxed time to sit down with your children and really listen to what they know already. Validate their fears by saying something like, “It can be frightening when a new illness comes around that we don’t know everything about.”
- Some children may not be able to put words to their worries and may show you they are struggling through changes in their behaviour. Wondering aloud might help to open up the conversation… ‘I wonder if all this talk of Corona virus is making you feel more stressed lately?’
- Stick to age appropriate facts
- Gently correct any misconceptions they may have heard and encourage them to continue to ask questions. An example resource to help younger children understand about the virus is https://matzav.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/CoronaVirus-Slide-for-kids.pdf.pdf.pdf
- Avoid having adult-level conversations about COVID-19 around younger children.
- Answer questions with brief, developmentally appropriate explanations. For example, you might tell a young child, “Coronavirus is a new type of cold/flu, and so it is important for us to wash our hands more and sneeze in our elbows to keep healthy.” Or we may say “We can keep ourselves safe by using good hygiene habits like washing hands for 20 seconds for soap and water. Very few kids have gotten sick from the novel coronavirus” If they are worried about elderly or ill family members, depending on the situation, it may be helpful for them to be able to call them or video link with them to see they are doing okay.
- Remind children that doctors and other experts around the world are working hard to keep us safe and stop the virus. This can help kids understand that smart, capable people are taking action.
- When you don’t know something, don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know, but I do know skilled people are working hard to find these things out as quickly as they can”.
- Monitor television viewing and social media
- Limit television viewing or access to information on the Internet and through social media. Try to avoid watching or listening to information that might be upsetting when your children are present.
- Maintain a normal routine to the extent possible
- Keep to a regular schedule as far as possible, whilst following public health guidance, as this can be reassuring and promotes emotional and physical health.
- Encourage your children to keep up with their schoolwork and extracurricular activities, but don’t push them if they seem overwhelmed.
- Reassure kids by empowering them
- Giving children guidance on what they can do to prevent infection gives them a greater sense of control over disease spread and will help to reduce their anxiety.
- Encourage your child to eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly; this will help them develop a strong immune system to fight off illness.
- Kids can also be included in other family-wide preparations. For example, if you were preparing for the possibility of being home for a while, ask the child what they might want to snack on or what activities they might enjoy during that time.
- Emphasise kindness
- When tensions are high, sometimes we try to blame someone. It is important to avoid stereotyping any one group of people as responsible for the virus. Bullying or negative comments made toward others should be stopped and reported to the school. Kindness is always possible – even when they feel afraid.
- To help children more realistically assess risk, educate children that most people who visit the doctor or wear a mask probably don’t have the virus.
- It is important to remind children that we are all trying our best to stay healthy and it’s not anyone’s fault if they do get sick.
Other useful articles for talking with teens about COVID-19 are: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/11/well/family/coronavirus-teenagers-anxiety.html
EMERGENCY HELP FOR THE VULNERABLE
Havering Council is running a free-to-call helpline for residents with urgent needs because of Coronavirus.
The helpline - 0800 368 5201 - is for emergencies only and will be answered by staff redeployed from other Council services. Residents can call between 8.30am and 6pm on weekdays, and between 11am and 4pm at the weekend.
They can also email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Residents with less urgent needs, or requiring advice on other Havering Council services, should go to the Havering Council website for a range of contact options.
Havering Council staff and volunteers have also started delivering food parcels to those residents identified by the Government and the NHS as most vulnerable, and likely to be affected by the current restrictions on movement and visitors.
This is part of a national effort to deliver food parcels to the 1.5 million most vulnerable people in the country who are being shielded from coronavirus.
The Government have sent councils across the country a range of staple items including milk, soup, and cereals that will make their way to these most vulnerable Havering residents.
If you know of families or others who you feel may also need food or other supplies urgently due to age, lack of access or bad health, and are not included in the Government programme, please contact the helpline on 0800 368 5201.
HELP AND SUPPORT FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE DURING COVID 19
Help and support for children and young people during COVID 19
- DfE helpline - 0800 046 8687
- This helpline is to answer questions about education. It’s available to you as well as your parents and your school staff.
- Childline - 0800 1111
- You can phone at anytime, the call is free. If you sign up for a Childline account on the website you’ll be able to message a counsellor at any time, you don’t have to use your email address. 1:1 chat with online advisors also available.
- Young Minds - https://youngminds.org.uk/
- Support for you and also your parents/carers.
- Free 24/7 crisis support across the UK if you’re experiencing a mental health crisis - just text YM to 85258. All texts are answered by trained volunteers who are supported by experienced clinical supervisors.
- Texts are free from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus.
- Muslim Youth Helpline - 0808 808 2008
- email@example.com. http://www.myh.org.uk/
- Support by phone, live chat or email.
- Child Bereavement UK – 0800 02 888 40
- App: apart of me
- Supports you if someone close to you has died, or you are worried that people you care about may die.
- Winstons Wish – 08088 020 021
- crisis messenger – text WW to 85258 (24/7)
- Provides support for you if someone close to you has died. The helpline is operating a remote service. Please leave a voicemail and you’ll get a call back from a withheld number as soon as possible.
- Papyrus - 0800 068 4141, text 07860 039967, firstname.lastname@example.org
- This day time service provides help and support if you are having suicidal thoughts, or are concerned about a friend.
- The Mix - 0808 808 4994 (1pm - 11pm daily)
- If you're under 25 you can talk to The Mix for free. They can help you with challenges you’re facing - from mental health to money, homelessness to finding a job, break-ups to drugs.
- BBC Bitesize - https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/articles/zhphhbk
- Coronavirus: Tips on coping with fear of losing a loved one.