Supporting your child during the coronavirus pandemic
Tips, advice and where to get support for your child's mental health during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
- Supporting your child during the transition out of lockdown
- Supporting your child as they return to school
- Supporting your child with grief and loss
- Supporting your family’s wellbeing if you're shielding
- Accessing mental health support and treatment for your child during the pandemic
- Supporting your child to comply with the coronavirus restrictions
- Looking after yourself
- Finding more information and support
Supporting your child during the transition out of lockdown
Your child may be feeling excited about the easing of some of the lockdown restrictions. But it’s also normal for children and young people to feel anxious about it. During lockdown, we’ve all experienced lots of change and we’re still living with uncertainty about the coming weeks and months. We’ve spent long periods of time at home and we’ve been told to keep our distance from other people. Your child may have become very aware of keeping themselves and others safe, and so moving out of lockdown might feel worrying.
As some lockdown measures begin to ease, some children and young people may find it difficult and it may take them some time to adjust.
Here are six things you can do to support your child:
- Explain the changes and talk about them together. Find out how they’re feeling and what they’re thinking about. Let them know it’s okay to feel scared or unsure, and try to answer their questions and reassure them in an age-appropriate way. Remember, you don’t need to know all the answers – just talking things through can help your child feel calmer.
- Reflect together on what it might feel like to have closer contact with people and go outside more. Think with them about what feels comfortable and right for them, and prepare them for the fact that some people may react differently to meeting up.
- Stick to regular routines such as daily mealtimes and bedtimes as much as you can. This might not always be possible at the moment, but doing so when it is can help your child feel safe and secure.
- Spend quality time doing positive activities with your child. This could be things like reading, playing, painting or cooking together. Doing these activities can give your child a break from any worries they have. It’s also a great way of providing a space for them to talk to you without having a ‘big chat’.
- Remind them that the rules are there to help keep them and others safe. Let them know that they’re not forever – and that things will eventually go back to normal.
- Remember that this is a gradual process and that your child may need some time to adjust to the new situation. If your child is feeling worried or overwhelmed, arrange catch-ups with family and friends on a smaller scale at first and start by making smaller trips outside the home.
More support and advice
- Blog: Talking to your child about coronavirus
- Our tips and activity ideas for starting a conversation with your child
- Parents Helpline Guide to Supporting Your Child with Anxiety
- Blog: A young person's guide to creating a self-soothe box
- Blog: Coping with OCD during the coronavirus pandemic
Supporting your child as they return to school
Deciding whether your child should go back to school at the moment is not an easy decision for parents to make. It is important that you do what you feel is right, comfortable and safe for your entire family.
If you have decided that you would like to send you child back to school, you and your child may be feeling different things about it. There may be things your child is excited about or looking forward to, as well as things they are worried or anxious about.
Have a look at our advice to help you support your child as they return.
Supporting your child with grief and loss
When you have experienced grief and loss, it can be hard to know how best to support your child. This may feel especially difficult at the moment – particularly if your family has been unable to be with a loved one when they died or to attend someone’s funeral, or if you have been grieving during the pandemic without normal routines and support networks.
Have a look at our practical tips to help you support your child and look after yourself.
More support and advice
Supporting your family’s wellbeing if you're shielding
If your family is still staying at home a lot more than usual and not doing many of the things you normally would, this might feel like a challenging time. There are things you can do to help daily life feel as manageable as possible for you and your family.
Have a look at our top tips and activity ideas to help you find a routine that works for you.
More support and advice
- Conversation starters to help you talk to your child about isolation
- Blog: Supporting your family's wellbeing during isolation
- Blog: A parent's tips for managing family life in isolation
- Blog: Tips for parents in a difficult living situation during lockdown
- Blog: Parents' tips for looking after yourself in lockdown
- Parents Helpline Guide to Challenging Behaviour
Accessing mental health support and treatment for your child during the pandemic
- Your child can still access emotional support from helplines, textlines and online chat services any time they need to. Childline, Samaritans and the YoungMinds Crisis Messenger all provide 24/7 support. The Mix is also providing online, phone and counselling support as normal. You can find other organisations offering support for young people around specific mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and self-harm in our Parents A-Z Guide.
- If you are worried about your child’s mental health and need professional support, contact your GP. In line with NHS advice, avoid going to the GP surgery in person if you can. To speak to a doctor or book an appointment, you can phone the surgery, use their online contact service if they have one, or visit the surgery’s website to find out the best way to get in touch.
- If your child is already being treated by Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) or another mental health service, many are offering telephone or online support in place of meeting face-to-face or in groups. You can still get in touch with the service and/or your child’s key workers by phone to discuss anything you need to, including how the pandemic might be affecting their treatment.
- If your child is already seeing a therapist or counsellor, or needs emotional support and would benefit from starting therapy or counselling while the pandemic is happening, it may be possible to arrange online or phone sessions in place of face-to-face. You can ask the counsellor or therapist about this over the phone.
If your child experiences a mental health crisis and they need urgent care, you can seek professional support in the following ways:
- If a health professional has already given you a crisis number to call in this situation, call this number.
- If your child is already under the care of CAMHS or another mental health team and they have a crisis plan that states who to contact when they need urgent care, follow this plan.
- If your child needs urgent care but it is not life threatening, you can call 111 for advice.
- If there is a medical emergency, for example if your child is injured or you are worried that they or someone else is at risk of harm, call 999.
If you’re unsure about anything and need some advice, you can call our Parents Helpline for free. We’re open Monday-Friday from 9.30am-4pm and you can reach us on 0808 802 5544. If you need further help after speaking to one of our Helpline advisors, we can refer you to one of our specialists who will arrange a phone consultation within 7 days of your call.
Looking after yourself
As a parent, you have experienced a sudden change in your life and routine. Over the last several months, you may have been balancing having your children at home alongside your job, worries about employment or health, and caring for vulnerable family or friends. This is a lot to manage and it will inevitably have felt stressful at times. Remember, it’s okay if things don’t always feel okay at the moment.
Take time when you can to check in with yourself, have a break and do the things that help you look after yourself during challenging times. These are different for everyone – it could be doing exercise, reading a book, watching a film, having a bath or speaking to friends.
You can also have a look at our Parents Survival Guide for more tips on looking after yourself.
Finding more information and support
Helplines and services available
- Our Parents Helpline is available to offer advice to parents and carers worried about a child or young person under 25.
- Our trained advisers are here to give you help and advice, whatever the question.
- Call for free on 0808 802 5544 from Mon-Fri, 9:30am - 4pm.
- You can also use our email service at any time.
- Practical advice and information for anybody affected by anxiety, stress and/or anxiety based depression – as well as for their parents, family and friends.
- In response to Coronavirus, they are extending their Infoline hours to support as many people as possible. Now open Monday-Friday 9.30am-5pm, and Saturdays and Sundays from 10am-8pm.
- Phone: 0344 477 5774
- Email: [email protected]
- Text: 07537 416 905
- Live Chat available during office hours via the website
- You can join #Coronanxiety webinars and support groups, including around topics such as OCD, uncertainty and claustrophobia, at www.anxietyuk.org.uk/coronanxiety-support-resources.
- You can find information about coronavirus on the website – and look out for more ideas and suggestions for supporting someone with autism around routine change, anxiety and sensory issues such as hand washing over the coming weeks.
- You can also contact their Helpline for information and advice. Open Monday-Thursday 10am-4pm and Fridays 9am-3pm.
- Phone: 0808 800 4104
- Resources to support people around bereavement as a result of Coronavirus, including grieving and isolation, talking about death and dying and other issues
Young people with disabilities
- Information on benefits and tax credits that parents and carers could be entitled to if caring for children during the Coronavirus pandemic
- Advice on what the Emergency Coronavirus Bill means for disabled children and their families
- You can also call their helpline for information and advice.
- Helpline open Monday-Friday 9.30am-5pm. Phone: 0808 808 3555
Domestic violence and abuse
- National charity supporting women and children experiencing, or at risk of, domestic violence
- Practical advice and support during the coronavirus pandemic: www.womensaid.org.uk/covid-19-resource-hub
- Live chat service open Monday to Friday 10am-2pm: https://chat.womensaid.org.uk
- Survivor’s Forum open 24/7: https://survivorsforum.womensaid.org.uk
- Information and advice for parents and carers around coronavirus, including keeping children safe from abuse
- Helpline open Monday to Friday 8am-10pm, and 9am-6pm at weekends: 0808 800 5000
- Online contact form
- Information on Coronavirus, your child’s treatment and changes to food routines: www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/coronavirus
- Helplines open 365 days a year from 12-8pm on weekdays, and from 4-8pm on weekends and bank holidays
- Adultline (for over 18s, including carers and professionals): 0808 801 0677
- Youthline (for under 18s): 0808 801 0711
- Studentline (for all students): 0808 801 0811
- 1:1 online chat open on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 12-8pm, and on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 4-8pm
- Email for adults: [email protected]
- Email for young people: [email protected]
- Email for students: [email protected]
Emotional support for young people
- You can find information on their website about coronavirus and ideas for things to do while staying home.
- Their emotional support services are open as normal – and if you’re under 25 you can talk to them about anything that’s troubling you over the phone, email or webchat. You can also use their phone or online counselling service.
- Helpline open daily 4-11pm: 0808 808 4994
- Email service
- Webchat open daily 4-11pm
- Counselling service
- Advice on coronavirus and housing, including evictions, mortgages, rent, benefits and landlords
Mental health and coronavirus
- Coronavirus information hub. Includes advice on coping with work, looking after your wellbeing, rights to social care, loneliness and changes to sectioning.
- Infoline open 9am-6pm Monday to Friday: 0300 123 3393
- Coronavirus information page including temporary changes to the Mental Health Act, advice for carers looking after those with severe mental health problems and information on self-care
- Guidance on what support is available to carers during the coronavirus pandemic, with lots of relevant links
- Provides support with parenting and family issues via phone, text and email.
- Open Monday to Friday, 9am-3pm and 6- 9pm.
- Phone: 0808 802 6666
- Text: 07537 404 282
- Email: [email protected]
- Support for single-parent families.
- Coronavirus information page providing advice on contact arrangements, employment issues, benefits and details of Gingerbread support groups
- Helpline open Mon: 10am-6pm, Tues, Thurs & Fri: 10am-
4pm, and Wed: 10am-1pm and 5-7pm.
- Phone: 0808 802 0925