Covid 19: Mental Health and Well-Being
During this period of immense uncertainty and associated anxiety, we felt that it was important to send you as much relevant and useful information as we can regarding the mental health and well-being of you and your families.
Many of you may be finding it difficult to find the support that you desire, or feel unsure about what to say to your children about the situations we find ourselves in, so we have collated some of the many available online resources and these are attached to this email and will also be on our website (link attached). It is our intention that we will update date these in a timely way to ensure that you are aware of, and have access to the most relevant information and support as it is made available.
Talk to your children:
The support provided by our families, and those networks around us, is something we all value. Taking time to listen to each other’s concerns – which may be similar or different to our own – is particularly key in relation to children and young people, who may feel overwhelmed by a complex and changing situation which isn’t being clearly explained for their perspective. Be curious about what’s on their mind, so they feel able to speak to you in their own time and their own way.
There are practical things you can do. Pay close attention to your child’s individual worries, whenever they choose to express them. These might seem trivial, but the change to routine itself (eg. plans for the weekend cancelled) may be what unsettles them. Concerns for the health of an elderly grandparent are understandable and need reassurance around what practical steps are being taken to keep people healthy. Of course, hand washing is something which children need to see their parents and carers doing too - and which can be done as a shared activity
Acknowledge your own anxiety:
If you are the parent or carer of a child, they will also pick up on how you are feeling - both in the way you talk openly (or don’t) about worrying issues and in the way you behave. If they see you visibly worried or alarmed, this may prompt them to feel the same. Where possible, try to reassure your child, while also being open so they trust you to be honest with them. When parents and carers deal with a situation calmly, it can provide the best support for children – and, while it may not be easy, be aware of this. As a parent or carer, look after your own mental health too. This will enable you to best support yourself and those you care about. Think about your own support networks and the ways in which you can focus on your own self-care (ideas below).
Choose your news sources wisely and in a limited and age-appropriate way:
Watching trusted news sources will play a part in helping children to feel informed and aware of the situation (eg. www.bbc.co.uk/newsround, including their advice on coronavirus). But if this starts to dominate, particularly if via social media, it may well be unhelpful to a child who is trying to understand a complex situation. The same applies to children seeing the adults around them constantly watching the news, with normal family life being put ‘on hold’ – this can in itself create alarm.
Try as much as possible to stick to facts when talking to your children, and avoid the temptation to listen to speculation. https://happiful.com/worried-about-coronavirus-what-you-need-to-know/.
Acknowledge your children’s’ questions but try where possible to give them the age-appropriate facts. When talking to other adults be mindful of little ears who may hear things and not understand- this in turn can cause anxiety to increase.
Keep Connected to your family and friends:
Keep connecting with your child. Do this in different ways, as this in itself will help you both to work out how you can provide support. Make it clear you are there for them. Stay in touch with how they’re feeling. It’s not helpful for children and young people to be anxious all the time, so be alert to this and to them possibly needing more support from you if this becomes the case.
Connection with your wider social network and community during this time will help with the emotional and social wellbeing of your family. Although you may not be able to spend face to face time with your loved ones, or the people with whom you would normally socialise, this does not mean that you need to feel socially isolated. We are fortunate to live in times where remote socialising is possible and we can embrace this in a heathy and positive way to ensure that relationships arte sustained and benefited from.
Establish a routine:
You may be spending more time together because of home working, schools being closed, or other public health measures. Keep your days varied. Think about how you can make the most of the physical space where you live. If possible, work together to organise your days – perhaps via a family timetable (attached to the fridge door!). It may help to create time slots for mealtimes, homework, friends (even if via social media), exercise, TV, etc, and do make sure you all maintain good diets and sleep habits. This routine can shape family life. But remember to be realistic about what you can achieve and don’t create added pressure upon yourselves. There are lots of examples of routines online, and it may well be a positive activity to do with your child/ren to establish the importance of this. Don’t forget to include some wellbeing activities such as:
- Taking a walk/fresh air if safe to do so
- Yoga (https://www.youtube.com/user/CosmicKidsYoga)
- Mindfulness/breathing/meditation (https://www.gonoodle.com)
- Listening to music
- Reading together or alone
- Watching a movie
- Baking something
- Spending time with pets
- Write a diary
Children’s emotions, including anxiety, are well regulated by the structure in their lives. Try and create consistency, even in unpredictable circumstances. With young children (aged 3-7), playing together may be your best way of identifying what their concerns are. Often, what they play is what they are thinking about. You could introduce a playful element into these discussions, and making other children, puppets, soft toys (or even pets) the focus may make it easier for your child to share what worries them. Take advantage of being together, but also make sure you have time of your own. Maintaining our routines, so the world has its familiar things as well as its uncertainties right now, feels helpful to us all.
Living with anxiety over a period of time can impact on the wellbeing of us all. Explore ways in which you – as individuals but also as a family group – can take care of yourselves. Think about what you have as self-care strategies, and how you can use these. Obvious examples are taking exercise, watching a film, listening to music, and enjoying a meal together. But also remember the ones which are special to you as a family.
As part of your family’s self-care you may want to consider writing a wellbeing plan to help focus some of your daily routine on feel good activities.
You and your children may also benefit from thinking of the future, to a time past your current situation and to focus on things that you will enjoy doing once you are able- going back to the gym, going to the cinema, soft play, swimming, birthday parties etc.
Be kind to yourselves:
These are challenging and unprecedented times clouded in uncertainty and fear. It is a time that will likely test the resilience of us as individuals and as communities. By focusing on kindness both towards ourselves and to others, we may find the strength to overcome the challenges that the unknown brings.
We want all of our children to be safe.
If you have any concerns about the welfare of any child at Fitzjohn's please speak to the Designated Safeguarding Leads:
Rob Earrey (Headteacher) email@example.com 020 7435 9797
Debbie Moss (Deputy Headteacher) firstname.lastname@example.org 020 7435 9797
Safeguarding Governor: Sarah Harper - arrange private contact via the school office.
If you feel unable to speak to the designated safeguarding leads or you feel that your concern is not being taken seriously you may either arrange contact with the governor named above or make a referral yourself by calling Camden Social Services 020 7974 4094
Children: if you need to speak to anyone you can talk to any staff member or you can call Childline.