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Mental health and well-being

Crisis Messenger free text service

The AFC (Anna Freud Centre) Crisis Messenger text service is a free, confidential, 24/7 text message support service for anyone who is feeling overwhelmed or is struggling to cope. The service is staffed by trained volunteers who will work with you to take your next steps towards feeling better. They can help with issues such as anxiety, worry, panic attacks, bullying and depression and are here to talk at any time of day or night. 

If you need support, you can text AFC to 85258.

'Express Yourself' Children's Mental Health Week

Information for Parents During the Covid-19 Lockdown – January 2021

 

We know that the situation around the outbreak is constantly changing and that our everyday lives have changed dramatically. It is normal to feel anxious, worried and scared and we need make sure we are taking care of our mental health. This page is designed to give you some information to support this and help you to support your children in doing this too.

The following organisations are offering support and advice:

 

www.mind.org.uk www.familylives.org.uk                      www.family-action.org.uk

This link is to a wonderful e-book written by Dr Emma Hepburn about coping in the current situation, it includes lots of helpful advice : How to Stay Calm in a Global Pandemic

Helping your children with their anxiety/worry around the situation:

It is important at this time to help our children recognise and talk about the ongoing situation, this will hopefully help to reduce any feelings of anxiety they may be having. Supporting them may involve things like, allowing them to talk about any worries or concerns, supporting communication with family and friends and setting up routines, including time for play and exercise. The following websites have advice and support:

www.keep-your-head.com                www.kooth.com                  www.youngminds.org.uk

 

Talking to Children about Coronavirus:

We need to continue to talk to our children about what is happening, answer any questions they have and address any worries they have. The pandemic has been part of our lives for a lengthy period of time and our children will continue to have questions, worries and concerns. The links below will help you to do this in a child friendly way:

0-3 years:             

www.zerotothree.org/resources/3210-tips-for-families-coronavirus

https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/4019268/Lessons/Home%20Learning%20Hub/Coronavirus/Coronavirus%20Storybook.pdf

 

Primary School Age:           

https://carolgraysocialstories.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Pandemics-and-the-Coronavirus.pdf

https://nosycrow.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Coronavirus-A-Book-for-Children.pdf

https://www.elsa-support.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Childrens-story-about-coronavirus.pdf

 

All Ages:               

www.unicef.org/coronavirus/how-talk-your-child-about-coronavirus-covid-19

https://www.unicef.org/coronavirus/how-teenagers-can-protect-their-mental-health-during-coronavirus-covid-19

Some Tips for Home-Schooling:

  • You can’t pour from an empty cup – please make sure you are looking after yourself as parents first and foremost. Make time for yourself, have a bath, take a walk, go to bed early with a book etc.
  • Set up a routine that works for you and your family is important. You know your children best and know what will work for them. Don’t worry if you can’t keep the routine up and please don’t keep trying to put a routine in place if it is stressful. Remember to keep a balance between active, nice family activities such as games and learning activities. Structure and routine are important in terms of maintaining our mental health.
  • If your children (or you) are feeling stressed with school work have a break. It is ok to take a break, not all work must be completed and work certainly does not need to be completed in one go. If you are worried about not all work being completed speak to your child’s teacher and ask them to prioritise learning tasks so you know which pieces of work are most important.
  • Break learning up into small chunks and if you can use visual cue or a now and next board that shows your child what they need to do and in what order.

 

  • If it helps use a timer so your child has a clear start and finish time for each activity. You can find timers online at www.online-stopwatch.com.
  • Make sure your children get some downtime to relax and some exercise every day.
  • If your child is struggling with their emotions support them to talk about what is bothering them, there are some ideas below of ways you can do this.
  • Sensory or calming resources may be useful, this could include simple things like blowing bubbles or playing with playdough or water or more expensive things like sensory cubes or tangle toys.

Ideas to Support Children and Young People During the Coronavirus Pandemic:

 

Managing Feelings and Emotions

  • Person activity – Fill your outline with your current emotions. How do they feel? Where are they?

 

  • Create a worry or question box where children can post things that they would like to talk about. Or create a worry monster – link here
  • Positivity journal/diary – Make a diary of some of the things you are enjoying each day e.g. today I enjoyed going for a walk in the woods, playing a game with my family etc.
  • Make a ‘Things to look forward to’ jar or box – Post things in the jar that you miss and are going to do when you can as something to look forward to.

 

Managing Big Emotions

 

Allow them to feel

  •  hold space for their feeling
  • move their body if they aren’t safe
  • hold their hands if they are hurting themselves or someone else
  • don’t rush them to calm

 

Connect with them

  • Empathise with their feeling ‘you worked so hard on that and it got broken, that’s really upsetting
  • Validate their emotion ‘I can understand why you felt like that, I would feel like that too’

 

Offer Coping Strategies

  • Offer two choices e.g. would you like a hug or to stomp your feet to help you feel calm
  • If they aren’t ready for this return to allowing them to feel

 

Problem solve

  • Don’t attempt this until the child is calm
  • Support them to problem solve with you e.g. ‘You want to play with the scooter and Jack is using it. What could we do?

 

Mindfulness (for children and adults)

Mindfulness involves maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts and feelings, body sensations and external environment. It helps us to tune in to what we are sensing at that moment rather than reliving the past or worrying about the future. Research has found mindfulness to be effective in reducing anxiety and depression. Below are some links to mindfulness type activities that can be found online:

 

Mindfulness support from Mind

Smiling Mind Mindfulness Resources

Kids relaxation techniques – Guided Imagery

https://www.cosmickids.com/

Positive Psychology – Mindfulness for Children

Puppy Mind by Andrew Jordan Nance

Mindfulness Colouring

Mindfulness Rainbow Walk

Star Breathing

Headspace app

Calm App

Ten Percent Happier Meditation App

 

Coronavirus and Wellbeing

Responding to Coronavirus, Resources for Mental Health and Wellbeing

Supporting the Mental Health and Wellbeing of Pupils and Students During Periods of Disruption

Young Minds What to do if you are Anxious about Coronavirus

Newsround Advice if you are Upset by the News

World Health Organisation – Helping Children Cope with Stress During the Outbreak

 

Planning for the Future

It can be helpful to remind children and young people that this is temporary, and we can still plan for the future. This may help them see beyond the situation and begin to consider setting goals for their future. Some families have enjoyed creating a jar of activities which they wish to do after the pandemic is over including people they want to see, things to do and places they would like to go.

Helpful Books

  • Something Bad Happened: A Kid’s Guide to Coping with Events in the News by Dawn Huebner
  • The Day the Sea Went out and Never Came Back by Margot Sunderland
  • Badger’s Parting Gifts by Susan Varley
  • Always and Forever by Debi Gliori and Alan Durant
  • The Invisible String by Patrice Karst and Joanne Lew-Vriethoff
  • Have You Filled A Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids by Carol McCloud
  • Sad Isn’t Bad : A Good-grief Guidebook for Kids Dealing with Loss by Michealene Mundy
  • Muddles, Puddles and Sunshine: Your Activity Book to Help When Someone Has Died by Diana Crossley
  • No Matter What by Debi Gliori

 

Grief and Bereavement

Winston’s Wish (supporting children through bereavement)

Child Bereavement UK

Rainbow Trust Supporting UK Families with Bereavement

Hope Again

Cruse Bereavement Care


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