is affecting everyone’s daily lives. Huge changes in the way society
works are happening in order to manage the outbreak, reduce transmission
and treat those who need medical attention.
This is bound to be a difficult time for children and
young people. Some will show it soon, for some it will take some time,
but all will be affected in some way. How it shows will depend on their
age, their ability to understand, their home situation, what their family
is experiencing and how they cope with challenge and change.
Different children and young people will react in
different ways. They may be scared about their own health and their
family and friends health, they may not seem worried, but be holding it
inside and having trouble sleeping or have physical symptoms like stomach
Whether the impact is obvious or hidden, it's really
important that the people close to the children and young people look after their mental health and wellbeing during this time.
to them: Everyone feels less anxious if they talk about how they
feel. Children and young people may find it harder to explain,
especially if they have any communication barriers. The important thing
is they are heard, their worries are taken seriously, and they get extra
love and attention.
Give clear information: They want to feel safe.
Understanding what’s happening helps. They need openness, honesty and
explanations about what’s being done and why it’s important. They need to
know what they can do to help, like washing their hands regularly.
The Mencap website has easy to read information that
works with all children and young people
Be a positive example: Children and young people
watch how their parents and carers react to what’s going on. It’s
important for them to see calmness, kindness and supportive behaviour.
It’s important that adults take care of themselves.
Connect regularly: If parents and carers cannot
be with their children they should make sure they have frequent contact
by phone or video call and make sure they understand why they can’t meet
Create a new routine: Knowing what is happening
when, even if it's different from usual, helps children and young people
feel safe. Give them a plan for the day or the week, so they know when
they will be learning, playing and relaxing. Use online learning
resources like BBC Bitesize. Keep them physically active using
indoor games and activities like Change4Life.Stick to their normal bedtime routines.
Be careful with TV and social media: They could
get upset by hearing too much about what’s going on, but don’t cut them
off completely. They should have limited access to the news and always
have someone to talk with about what they see and hear.
age children are will have a huge influence on how they react to
0 to 2-year olds may become distressed more
easily, crying more and wanting to be held and cuddled more.
3 to 6-year olds may go back to having toileting
accidents, bed-wetting, being frightened about separation, and they may
be more likely to have tantrums or difficulty sleeping.
7 to 10-year olds could feel sad, angry, or
afraid. They might also get false news from peers that need correcting.
They might get obsessed and want to talk about it all the time, but they
may want to avoid it completely.
Pre-teens and teenagers could become introverted
and cut themselves off from friends. They could be overwhelmed by
emotions and unable to talk, leading to increased arguing and even
fighting with siblings, parents, caregivers or other adults. Older teens
might act out and indulge in alcohol or drug use, or get anxious about
school closures and exam cancellations.
The Mix offers a free 24/7 crisis messenger text
service for anyone aged 25 or under, on 85258, a listening and
signposting helpline on 0808 808 4994 and a one-to-one online chat
service. More about all these services and more at: www.themix.org.uk/get-support
eQuoo is a free app developed by a team of
psychologists and the creators of The Walking Dead games. It combines
mental health research with play and uses choose-your-own-adventure games
to increase emotional fitness and teach psychological skills. There
are currently some in-app purchases, but they are not crucial to
gameplay and there will soon be a code for Lambeth users that removes
Anyone worried about a child or young person’s mental
health should seek help from a professional. They can contact their school
or college or their GP or get support from South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust’s SLAM
crisis line on 0800 731 2864. For more advice on where to get support
for a mental health crisis visit the NHS page.
Kooth is an online counselling service for 11-25
year olds living in Lambeth and across south-east London. Free, anonymous
mental health and emotional well-being support comes from qualified
counsellors in one-to-one sessions, from 12 noon to 10.00 p.m. on
weekdays, and from 6.00 p.m. until 10.0 p.m. at weekends, 52 weeks per
year. Young people can also log on to kooth.com to access help and support for their
Papyrus provide online suicide prevention support
aimed at young people and adults up to the age of 35 at www.papyrus-uk.org
Anyone worried about virus related symptoms a child or
young person is experiencing should visit the NHS self-isolation advice website for
information. If still worried, they can call NHS 111, but if someone is
seriously ill and their life is at risk call 999.
A mental health emergency should be
taken as seriously as a physical health emergency.