MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLBEING SUPPORT FOR FAMILIES
Your child may be experiencing feelings such as anxiety, stress or low mood as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and the recent change in circumstances.
At St Mary’s we will continue to offer pastoral support to pupils working remotely.
As well as thinking about the children in your care, it is important to take care of your own mental health and wellbeing.
Children and young people react, in part, to what they see from the adults around them. When parents and carers deal with a situation calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children and young people.
Parents and carers can be more supportive to others around them, especially children, when they are better prepared.
Q. What changes may I see in my child if they are feeling stressed?
All children and young people are different, but there are some common ways in which different age groups may react to a situation like the COVID-19 pandemic.
Please remember that the common reactions to distress will fade over time for most children and young people, though could return if they see or hear reminders of what happened. Understanding these may help you to support your family.
- For infants to 2-year-olds : Infants may become more easily distressed. They may cry more than usual or want to be held and cuddled more.
- For 3- to 6-year-olds: Preschool and nursery children may return to behaviours they have outgrown, such as toileting accidents, bed-wetting, or being frightened about being separated from their parents or carers. They may also have tantrums or difficulty sleeping.
- For 7- to 10-year-olds: Older children may feel sad, angry, or afraid. Peers may share false information but parents or carers can correct the misinformation. Older children may focus on details of the situation and want to talk about it all the time, or not want to talk about it at all. They may have trouble concentrating.
- For preteens and teenagers: Some preteens and teenagers respond to worrying situations by acting out. This could include reckless driving, and alcohol or drug use. Others may become afraid to leave the home and may cut back on how much time they connect with their friends. They can feel overwhelmed by their intense emotions and feel unable to talk about them. Their emotions may lead to increased arguing and even fighting with siblings, parents, carers or other adults. They may have concerns about how the school closures and exam cancellations will affect them
How can I help my child cope with the stress of the pandemic?
There are some key actions you can consider to support your child’s mental health and wellbeing during the pandemic, including:
Listening to and acknowledging their concerns. Children respond to stress in different ways. Children and young people may feel less anxious if they are able to express and communicate their feelings in a safe and supportive environment. Give them extra love and attention if they need it.
Signs may be:
- emotional (for example, they may be upset, distressed, anxious, angry or agitated), behavioural (for example, they may become more clingy or more withdrawn, or they may wet the bed), or physical (for example, they may experience stomach aches).
Providing clear information about the situation. Children and young people want to feel assured that their parents and carers can keep them safe. One of the best ways to achieve this is by talking openly about what is happening and providing honest answers to any questions they have, using words and explanations that they can understand. Explain what is being done to keep them and their loved ones safe, including any actions they can take to help, such as washing their hands more often than usual.
Being aware of your own reactions. Remember that children and young people often take their emotional cues from the important adults in their lives, so how you respond to the situation is very important. It is important to manage your own emotions and remain calm, speak kindly to them, and answer any questions they have honestly.
Connecting regularly. If it is necessary for you and your children to be in different locations to normal, make sure you still have regular and frequent contact via the phone or video calls with them. Try to help your child understand what arrangements are being made for them and why in simple terms.
Support safe ways for children and young people to connect with their friends. Where it isn’t possible for them to meet in person, they can connect online or via phone or video calls.
Creating a new routine. Life is changing for all of us for a while. Routine gives children and young people an increased feeling of safety in the context of uncertainty, so think about how to develop a new routine, especially if they are not at school:
- make a plan for the day or week that includes time for learning, playing and relaxing
- encourage maintaining a balance between being online and offline and discover new ideas for activities to do from home if needed.
- don’t forget that sleep is important for mental and physical health, so try to keep to existing bedtime routines
- it may be tempting to give children and young people treats such as sweets or chocolate but this is not good for their health, especially as they may not be as physically active as normal.
Limiting exposure to media and talking more about what they have seen and heard. Like adults, children and young people may become more distressed if they see repeated coverage about the COVID-19 pandemic in the media. A complete news blackout is also rarely helpful as they are likely to find information from other sources, such as online or through friends.
Try to avoid turning the television off or closing web pages when children or young people come into the room. This can pique their interest to find out what is happening and their imagination can take over. Instead, consider limiting the amount of exposure you and your family have to media coverage.
Young people will also hear things from friends and get information from social media. Talk to them about what is happening and ask them what they have heard. Try to answer their questions honestly but reassure where you can.
Are there any resources that may help?
The following online resources may help:
- MindEd, a free educational resource from Health Education England on children and young people’s mental health
- Rise Above, which aims to build resilience and support good mental health in young people aged 10 to 16
- Every Mind Matters, which includes an online tool and email journey to support everyone to feel more confident in taking action to look after their mental health and wellbeing
• free confidential support can be accessed anytime from government-backed voluntary and community sector organisations by:
- texting SHOUT to 85258
- calling Childline on 0800 1111
- calling the Mix on 0808 808 4994
- online information on COVID-19 and mental health is available on the Young Minds website
- the Think Ninja (freely available and adapted for COVID-19) app educates 10-18 year olds about mental health, emotional wellbeing and provide skills young people can use to build resilience and stay well 27
ThinkNinja - Child Wellbeing (healios.org.uk)
- Rise Above (adapted for COVID-19) website aims to build resilience and support good mental health in young people aged 10 to 16
Mental wellbeing | Overview | PHE School Zone
- Bereavement UK and the Childhood Bereavement Network, provide information and resources to support bereaved pupils, schools and staff
Q. How can I make sure my child is active during the lockdown?
It’s important for your child to remain for and active where ever possible.
OUTDOORS: It’s important to get some daily fresh air and to keep moving to keep yours and your child’s body and mind healthy. We’ll be encouraging outdoor learning through our remote teaching
- Walk in the local area.
- A trip to the park.
- Scooter ride
- Bike ride
The following links are fantastic for getting the whole family moving whilst being indoors.
A selection of workouts that put the fun back into fitness and help engage kids. Children can train alongside their favourite superheroes from the comfort of their home.
Yoga, mindfulness and relaxation - designed specially for kids aged three and above.
A chance for parents and kids to get moving to the songs they love. Learn their moves or put your own spin on their routines
Team GB and Paralympics GB's official activity programme for children aged 5-11 and their families. FREE
Q. I have tried the above and remain worried about my child’s mental health. What can I do?
- Please contact your GP and school.
Mrs Gordon: Pastoral Manager
Mrs Collins: Deputy Head Teacher: Inclusion Team
Ms O’Mullane: Deputy Head Teacher: Inclusion team
Family Support & Guidance
We understand how important it is to support our parents and carers, as well as the children who attend our school, therefore, we have created and will continue to develop this page to signpost parents and carers to useful websites and resources that can help support our families.
Manchester City Council parenting tips: For children aged 0-11+years
Care for the Family
Raising children can be a physical and emotional rollercoaster. Parents and carers need all the support they can get. Articles to help you build a healthy family.
Family Line supports adult family members via telephone, text, email and web chat
Family Lives is a national family support charity providing help and support to families who are struggling.
Self Help Services are commissioned by the NHS to provide psychological therapies for mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and panic. The service is free, and if you have a Manchester GP you can refer yourself by calling 0161 226 3871, or your GP can make a referral for you. They offer support such as CBT, counselling, self-help groups and workshops. They offer flexible appointments including online and telephone support, and appointments in evenings.
Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families is a children’s mental health charity with over 60 years’ experience of caring for young minds. Their vision is a world in which children and their families are effectively supported to build on their own strengths to achieve their goals in life.
Manchester Mind have been supporting for better mental health for all in Manchester for thirty years.
Manchester Parent Carer Forum works to represent the ‘voice’ of parents and carers of children and young people aged 0-25 with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)
Where to look for help while you're on the CAMHS waiting list.
If your child is a healthy weight, there's lots you can do as a parent to help them stay a healthy size as they grow.
As well as maintaining a healthy weight. It is important to keep active.
Stonewall 'acceptance without exception', work to ensure that LGBT people, across all communities, are valued, welcomed by all and can participate fully in society.
Mermaids is one of the UK's leading LGBTQ+ charities, empowering thousands of people with its secure online communities, local community groups, helpline services, web resources, events and residential weekends.
Messages of hate can take many forms. Extremist groups use them to recruit young people. Parents can find answers to common questions and resources to help protect their child here.
For honest and useful advice for parents and guardians about drugs, talk to FRANK
Below is a link to NHS UK's suggested apps to support mental health.
Below are two really useful self help websites, supporting people with a large range of issues from anger and phobias, to relationships and OCD.
Barnardo’s See, Hear, Respond service, provides support to children, young people and their families who aren’t currently seeing a social worker or other agency, and who are struggling to cope with the emotional impacts of coronavirus (COVID-19).
You can access via the ‘See, Hear, Respond’ service self-referral webpage or Freephone 0800 151 7015.