Emotional Well-being & Mental Health

Emotional Well-being & Mental Health

During this uncertain time, it is understandable for families to be feeling a mix of emotions.  Children may be feeling worried or showing signs of stress through their behaviour.  They may feel bored or frustrated at the changes in their routine, or isolated and upset about their restricted freedom away from their friends and wider family.

Knowing how best to support your child through this unsettling time can feel tough.  Such uncertainty, coupled with the inevitable stresses for both children and adults of coping with the Covid-19 pandemic has understandably led some people to experience high levels of distress.

We have put together these ideas with our school counsellor, Helen Webb, to help if your child is struggling with their emotions or mental health:

Talk to your child about what is going on and how they are thinking and feeling.  Reassure them that it is normal to feel worried and unsettled and that whatever they are feeling is ok. Try and answer any questions in an age appropriate way - it's ok not to have all of the answers but just talking through things can help children to feel calmer.

Listen to how your child is feeling; don't dismiss or minimise what they are saying but show that you are trying to understand things from their point of view.  Try and communicate the message that it is ok to feel worried/scared/confused etc, but it is of course hard.  Try not to say 'don't worry' but encourage them to think about the things they can do to feel safer, less stressed and more in control.

Encourage a daily routine, but perhaps modify expectations during this time.  It is understandable that some children feel lethargic and demotivated as a response to the stress and uncertainty that is so present for them.  Gently helping children to reintroduce some structure back into their life can help them to regain a sense of purpose and feel more grounded and motivated.

Encourage a healthy lifestyle - regular exercise, particularly outside where possible, really helps to reduce the levels of stress hormones.  Along with good sleeping habits, calm bedtime routines, limited screen or computer time in the evening, alongside a healthy diet, can really help to promote a sense of well-being for children during times of stress.

Work on positive thinking - encouraging children to name their worst case scenarios and then think through together how to sort out the situation if it happens, e.g. "I'm worried my friendships won't be the same when I go back to school"..."What do you think we could do if that happened?"

Make a Worry Box - having somewhere to 'put' worries can help to feel a sense of control over them.  You children can write each worry down and post it in the box out of sight.  The worries can stay in there for, say, a week to see if they were worth worrying about and therefore talking things through, and if not, they can be torn up.

Make a Calm Box - this is like an emotional 'first aid kit' that can be reach for in times of stress.  Help your child to fill a box with calming and comforting things, e.g. happy photos, familiar books, a blanket, soft toy, stress toy, pad/pens for doodling, drawing or writing, some mindfulness colourings, a set of cards that they can make possibly including a deep breathing technique, a positive happy quote, happy memory etc.  It can then be kept somewhere safe and accessed when necessary.

The following links and signposts may also be of some use to you and your family:

RESOURCES FOR PARENTS AND CARERS

The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)  has some books to download for free and really helpful resources that parents might find useful.

There is a handy Parents' Toolkit on the BBC Bitesize website, with a lot of advice and support. 

Warwickshire's Children and Family Centre can give support and advice. You can email diana.sanchez@barnardos.org.uk  (Monday /Tuesday) or Jacqui.waldron@barnardos.org.uk. (Wednesday-Friday).

The Family Support Team also operate 9.00-4.00 Mon-Fri and can be contacted on 01926 412412

Place2Be is a children's mental health charity offering advice and support for parents and schools:

 Resources for dealing with the effects of lockdown – some really good videos and links to websites to help support children with sleep routines, behaviour and anxieties (resources are aimed at schools but can be accessed by parents) can be found at:

https://www.mentallyhealthyschools.org.uk/media/2035/coronavirus-dealing-with-effects-toolkit-5.pdf

 The Warwickshire Local Welfare Scheme helps the most vulnerable residents at times of unavoidable crisis. It provides basic and essential help for food and energy. This is provided either in emergency food parcels or with credit for energy. It is not a cash benefit. Just email warwickshirelocalwelfarescheme@warwickshire.gov.uk - you will need to include each child's name, date of birth and a valid mobile number.

HELPLINE & SUPPORT FOR CHILDREN 24/7

Young Minds offer a lot of guidance and support for coping with isolation and anxiety:   

Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust (CWPT) have  developed a 24 hour 7 day a week telephone advice helpline for children, run by qualified mental health clinicians. This helpline is there to support and give advice, to work with students to feel more able to be in control of their emotions, and to help manage any distress they are feeling. Between the hours of 8am and 8 pm please call the Children's Crisis Team  on 02476 641799. If you are calling between the hours of 8pm and 8 am please call the Coventry Crisis Team on 02476 938000

Samaritans offer a safe place for families to talk at any time, in your own way, about whatever struggles you may be having.  Call them for free on 116123.

PAPYRUS is the national charity dedicated to the prevention of young suicide. They operate HOPEline and offer people access in crisis, but also can be phoned by professionals who would like to ask for guidance.

Childline can be contacted on 0800 1111

For children over 16, call the Mental Health Matters helpline: 0800 616171 (landline) or 0300 330 5487 (mobile). Live chat is also available here.

 If you think your child would benefit from a supportive  chat from a member of our school staff, this can be arranged through emailing admin3141@we-learn.com . Several children have already really benefited from this as a way of easing anxiety and stress during lockdown.

And finally, many people find that a bit of physical exercise helps put them in a better frame of mind. It will not solve all your problems but it often does you a power of good to get out and run, walk, cycle or simply look around you, before you decide on one or two simple steps you want to take to get practical or emotional help. We hope that the links above provide you with a starting point.  Life can be very hard at times but a problem shared is often a problem halved. Lots of people are ready to listen  so please do make that call. 

 Our school's Christian Vision  is:

 'Through teaching children what it means to 'Love your neighbour as yourself' (Matthew 22), we strive to secure the foundations for happy, healthy individuals with the highest aspirations who can live life in all its fullness.'

 In seeking to make this vision a reality, we aim to provide opportunities to increase everyone's mental health so that the entire community is closer to living life in all its fullness.

Stay safe and look after one another.