London, 25 October – Most families have experienced upheaval in their daily lives during the pandemic. With children and young people now back at school or college, PHE’s new mental health campaign provides NHS-endorsed tips and advice to help children and young people’s mental wellbeing, and equip parents and carers with the knowledge to support them.
Research reveals that the coronavirus outbreak has caused an increase in anxiety in young people. What’s more, over two-fifths (41%) of children and young people said they were more lonely than before lockdown and more than a third said they were more worried (38%). New PHE survey data found that when asked about their top three worries around coronavirus, over half of parents (52%) said the mental wellbeing of their children topped the list.
It’s a relief for most parents and carers that their children are now back at school, but, as we adapt to a new normal many anticipate their children will experience new stresses. This includes facing the challenges of catching up with missed education, getting used to new schools or colleges and re-building relationships with friends.
The new advice available on the Every Mind Matters website is designed to help parents and carers spot the signs that children may be struggling with their mental health and support them. In addition to the advice for parents and carers the site also provides tools to help young people build resilience and equips them to look after their own mental wellbeing.
NHS’s Top 5 Tips for supporting children and young people’s mental wellbeing as they go back out into the world
- Be there to listen: Ask the children and young people you look after how they are doing regularly so they get used to speaking about their feelings
- Stay involved in their life: Show interest in their life and the things that are important to them
- Support positive routines: Be a positive role model and support positive behaviours including regular bedtime routines, healthy eating and getting active
- Encourage their interests: Being active, creative, learning things and being a part of a team are all good for mental health. Support children and young people to explore their interests
- Take what they say seriously: help the children and young people you look after feel valued in what they say and help them work through difficult emotions.
Professor Prathiba Chitsabesan, NHS England Associate National Clinical Director for Children and Young People’s Mental Health, said: “It’s understandable that while many children and young people are excited to be back in class, some may also have concerns and anxieties about the new academic year, following the uncertainty and upheaval of Covid, which is why this important campaign is offering practical tips to help kids cope.
“Parents, carers, teachers and students should also be reassured that the NHS has been and will continue to be there for everyone with concerns about their mental health, whether through 24/7 crisis support lines, video and phone consultations, or face to face appointments.”
Faisal Tariq, a community development worker at Sharing Voices, a mental health organisation actively supporting and working with diverse minority communities in Bradford said: “We know from our work within the community in Bradford that throughout the pandemic and as young people have gone back into school settings that many are struggling with anxiety for a whole host of reasons. For many black and South Asian people, this has been more pronounced due to the fact that these communities have been disproportionately affected by negative health outcomes when it comes to COVID-19.”
“It’s not always clear for parents how they can address these concerns, a factor which can be heightened in black and South Asian communities for reasons such as language or cultural barriers. I would urge all parents who are concerned for their children to access the new advice available on the Every Mind Matters website.”
Search Every Mind Matters for expert tips and advice to support children and young people with their mental wellbeing, or for more information, visit https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/