Supporting the mental health and wellbeing of your family during coronavirus
We need to be honest with children and young people about the situation, but also be sensitive not to worry them too much and be aware that children and young people of different ages may need different support.
There is lots of information and advice available to help with being at home, talking to your family about coronavirus, dealing with children and young people’s worries and help to look after yourself too. Here are a few guides that may help.
- Guidance for parents and carers on supporting children and young people's mental health and wellbeing from Public Health England.
- Young Minds is a website for young people, but has a section for supporting your child during the coronavirus pandemic, including if they’re worried, as well as information on what to do if they don’t want to follow the lockdown rules.
- The NSPCC website has guides on working from home with children, dealing with co-parenting and family arguments and tensions, both big and small.
- Practical resources for parents and carers supporting children and young people when there is uncertainty and change from HeadStart Kent (PDF, 240.6 KB).
If your child is looking for somewhere to get information for themselves there are a few places you could suggest to them:
- the Moodspark website is for young people aged 10 to 16 to learn to look after their emotional and mental health. There is a section to support young people through coronavirus (COVID-19)
- ThinkNinja is the first mental health app approved by the NHS to support the mental health and emotional wellbeing of children and young people during the coronavirus pandemic, and is now listed in the NHS apps library. It is available for 10 to 18 year olds.
- Big White Wall is available for 16 to 18 year olds with an online community filled with resources, information and online counselling.
- Kooth is for young people 10 to 16 to get advice, information and can also chat to a qualified counsellor.
- Kent Youth Health have advice and information for young people dealing with their emotions during this time.
- many sessions offered by youth hubs have been moved online.
Wellbeing ideas and resources
Different families will be in different situations, but we have put together some guides and resources to help you.
Depending on their age children and young people may be affected differently by not being able to see their friends, or other members of your family.
Try to focus on the things that you can do, rather than the things that you aren’t able to.
- Keep in touch with family and friends you can’t meet up with using video calls.
- Check the government guidance on who you can meet and where – remembering you need to keep 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household.
There will be different challenges for parents of older children and teenagers, who may have been used to their independence, and will find it harder not doing the things they’re used to, and it’s normal for them to rebel. Young Minds has some advice for if your child won’t follow the rules.
You may be able to suggest new ways they can socialise, there are lots of ideas online – online fitness classes, virtual tours of museums and landmarks, or ways to host virtual movie nights, meals or play online games together.
Being at home together without space for time alone may cause tension or conflict in the house. However big or small, if you're worried about coping with family tensions or managing arguments, there are some tips and advice on the NSPCC website.
Preparing for exams would have been important for many young people, and they may be worried about their grades after the exams were cancelled. There is guidance with answers to the common questions about exams being cancelled, you can also speak to your school or college to get more information and talk about any concerns.
The School Public Health Service have a dedicated section providing support and information for parents on counselling and emotional health.
For parents working from home, you may be worried you’re not doing enough home schooling or spending enough time with your children. Remember you can’t do everything, and you will be doing your best.
You shouldn’t feel guilty for taking the time to look after your children when they need it. Talk to your employer or manager about your situation and agree things that could help, like more flexibility with your hours or discussing any family friendly policies they have, for example carers leave. Many people are in the same situation as you, so you won’t be the only one having these conversations.
Schools and teachers understand that different children will do different amounts of work while schools are closed. You shouldn’t worry about how much has been done, just try your best, you’re not expected to be a teacher and some children will be more motivated than others to do work at home.
- Read some tips and advice from the NSPCC website to help you find balance and create structure while working from home with your family.
There may be mixed feeling from both you and your children about returning to school or nursery. Your school or childcare will contact you with their plans. Talk to them about any questions or concerns you have.
- Read the government guide to schools reopening.
- The Department for Education have a helpline to answer questions about coronavirus (COVID-19) related to education. Staff, parents and young people can contact the helpline. Call 0800 046 8687 or email DfE.email@example.com.
For those not going back to school or nursery yet most schools will continue to provide online learning. There are guides to support your child’s learning on the GOV.UK website, including guides for younger children (aged 2-4), primary school, secondary school and children with SEN.
Many children and young people will have questions and worries about the coronavirus, but those who have experienced the death of someone important or who have an ill family member will be particularly affected. The following information could help if your child has lost a loved one or if a loved one is dying.
- Information about children and bereavement on the NHS website.
- Read about coronavirus grief and trauma on the Cruse website.
- Read how children's understanding of death is different at different stages of development on the Cruse website, or you can call their helpline 0808 808 1677.
There is also bereavement support information for parents and carers, co-created by parent experts by experience with a professional author.