Helping young people with their mental health through the Covid pandemic

Credit: PA

The strain on young people's mental health has never been greater with new data showing children and young people are bearing the brunt of the coronavirus crisis.

Data analysed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists shows that almost 400,000 children and 2.2 million adults sought help for mental health problems during the pandemic.

The research found there were 1.68 million more mental health sessions delivered over the past 12 months compared with the year before.

Analysis of NHS Digital data suggests that while the Covid-19 crisis is affecting people of all ages, the under-18s are suffering most, the college said.

What can you do if your child or a young person you know is suffering?

How to manage anxiety

  • Minimise what you watch and read on the news and social media. Being on the receiving end of repeated news can be overwhelming.

  • Eat well and regularly. We use more energy when we are anxious.

  • Make a list of fun indoor plans, ensuring some of them include things you can do on your own - in case you need to self distance.

  • Aim to get adequate rest. Sleep is important for maintaining positive mental health.

Sleep can be severely impacted by stress and anxiety. Charity Stem4 suggests young people:

  • Try to get any stressful activities out of the way early in the day.

  • Stay away from heated social media or alarming news programmesafter 4pm.

  • Take time to wind down - exercise earlier in the day andthen do relaxing things from around 5pm.

  • Use your bed to sleep in only.

  • Use a notebook to write down everything you have to do. Keep it,with a pen, by the side of your bed. If you find yourself thinking ofmore things you have to do as you try to drop off, write them down.

  • Also use your notebook to write down any worries that pop into yourhead as you try to sleep.

  • If going back to a childhood sleep routine helps, give it a go. This is anexceptional time that needs exceptional measures. Don’t be embarrassedif you want your mum or dad to tuck you in - if it works, do it. The quickeryou manage a fear, the quicker it will pass

The strain on young people's mental health has never been greater. Credit: PA

And how can parents and guardians help?

Stem4 founder Dr Krause’s s tips for parents and guardians to create emotional and psychological safety:

Connection: Provide secure attachments, express emotions, create harmony, encourage positive social connections and opportunities to connect with nature.

Communication: Provide opportunities for positive communication, shield from media overload and support learning opportunities including academic, social and emotional.

Control: Support self-regulation by encouraging children to focuson routine, deal with boredom and set limits.

Compassion: Be kind when it comes to your children’s fears and struggles (and your own). Encourage enjoyable activities and promote community engagement and giving.

For more help and advice:

Young Minds


The Mix