Dear Friends of Lambeth
This special edition of the newsletter is a brief summary of the Public Health England guidance on supporting the mental health of children and young people during the COVID-19 outbreak. There are also some local support resources.
You can use this information to support families you work with, or directly with children and young people themselves if you are in contact with them.
The full document is available at: UK Government Covid-19 Guidance on Supporting Children & Young People's Mental Health & Wellbeing
Lambeth comprehensive leaflet with information and services to support Lambeth residents during Covid -19 - see Lambeth leaflet
What you need to know
COVID-19 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 aches.
Whether the impact is obvious or hidden, it's really important that the people close to the children and young people you work with look after their mental health and wellbeing during the outbreak.
Six ways to help children and young people cope with stress
Listen 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.
Skills for Care advice offers tips for talking about feelings.
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.
Here’s some advice for adults on how to look after your own mental wellbeing.
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 up.
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.
Ages and stages
The age children are will have a huge influence on how they react to challenging times:
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.
Helplines and websites for children and young people to use themselves
If they want to speak to someone else, they can call a helpline or visit websites like Shout, ChildLine and The Mix. eQuoo is a fun way to support their mental health.
Shout gives free, confidential support, 24/7 via text. They can text SHOUT to 85258 to text-chat with trained volunteers who can listen and help with problem-solving
ChildLine’s helpline is for any child with a problem. They can 0800 1111 any time for free, have an online chat with a counsellor and check out the message boards
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 them: equoogame.app.link/Lambeth
Lambeth and national mental health & welfare resources for children, young people and their carers
Mental Health Resources
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 mental well-being.
Doctors of the World have made COVID-19 advice available in 35 languages. It's based on government advice and health information. It is also on their Google drive..
MindEd is a free learning resource about the mental health of children, young people and older adults. They also offer e-learning for volunteers, students and practitioners.
Young Minds for Parents and Carers offer advice for children and young people up to 25 and their carers. Young people can get ideas about things to do if they are anxious, concerned or stressed at youngminds.org.uk/blog/what-to-do-if-you-re-anxious-about-coronavirus Parents and carers can call their helpline on 0808 802 5544 and get advice on talking about COVI-19 at youngminds.org.uk/blog/talking-to-your-child-about-coronavirus/#ten-tips-from-our-parents-helpline
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.
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