Coronavirus and your wellbeing – for young people

Coronavirus and your wellbeing

PLEASE NOTE – ALL OF THIS INFORMATION IS TAKEN FROM so for all links you will be redirected to the MIND website

You might be feeling overwhelmed, sad, or confused about coronavirus. You might also be feeling worried about yourself, your family and friends.

Minds’ page on managing feelings about changes to lockdown has more information on how you may be feeling.

Things might feel hard right now, but it’s important to remember that this situation won’t last forever.

We’re here to give you advice and support to help you through this time.

This page has information on the following:

What can I do if I’m worried about my health?
Do I need to wear a mask?
Tips for taking care of your mental wellbeing
Tips on how to cope with being at home with others
What will happen with my treatment or support?
Tips on supporting others
Where else can I get support?

What can I do if I’m worried about my health?

It’s normal to feel worried, sad, scared, angry, or annoyed about coronavirus, or to feel several emotions at once.

But there are lots of things you can do to look after your physical and mental health that may help you to feel better:

Follow advice from the experts

Follow advice from the NHS and Public Health Wales. This includes information about staying at home, washing your hands, wearing a mask. Plus other things you can do to limit the spread of the virus.

Be kind to yourself, too – if their advice makes you feel more worried, or you find it difficult to follow, talk to someone you trust like your parent, carer or a doctor.

Get updates from trusted sources

You could visit the BBC or the NHS. If you see or hear updates from individual people, like on social media, they may not be correct.

Take breaks from social media and the news

It can be overwhelming to be constantly reminded of coronavirus.

By only checking for updates at times you set, you’ll limit how much you take in, and give yourself space to think and relax.

YoungMinds have more information on social media and mental health.

Talk to someone about how you feel

Especially if you’re feeling worried a lot of the time. You could open up to a friend, or talk to a trusted adult like your parent or carer or your youth worker.

If you’d rather talk to someone you don’t know, you could call Childline using their confidential service.

“Speak to someone about your struggles, whether you think they are large or small. If it feels significant to you, then it is.”

Make a plan for what you’ll do if you need to self-isolate

Make a plan for how you’ll spend your time at home. You can think about things to do, things to study, things that can make you feel better, and people to contact online.

You could also discuss with a trusted adult how they can help you, such as reminding you of your plan and checking in on you regularly.

Making a plan may also help you feel less worried about self-isolation.

Look after your body

Sleep is very important, especially if you have been feeling worried. And eating and drinking enough will help you keep your energy up and stay hydrated.

These things will help you look after your mental wellbeing, as well as your physical health.

“It’s hard when images on social media circulate reminding us to be productive all the time, eat perfectly, exercise every day, maintain every friendship and pick up new hobbies.”

I’m being bullied because of my ethnicity

You may have heard public figures calling the virus racist names, seen some people avoid others in the street or in shops, or been bullied yourself in person or online. 

But no ethnicity or group of people is to blame for coronavirus. If you or someone you know is being bullied or abused because of it, that’s known as a hate crime. The best thing you can do is tell a trusted adult about what’s happening.

Childline has more information about racism and racial bullying, and a confidential helpline if you want to talk about anything.

If you, or your parent or carer decide to report it as a crime, or you would like more information or advice, Victim Support has a support line for young people that you can ring for free.

Do I need to wear a mask?

To help stop the spread of coronavirus, we’re being asked to wear face masks or coverings in some public places, like on public transport.

The rules on where and when you need to wear a mask are slightly different in England and Wales.

Anyone over 11 years old should wear a mask, unless they have a ‘reasonable excuse’ not to, like: 

  • if you’re not able to put on, wear or take off a mask, because of an illness or disability 
  • if you need to eat, drink or take medicine
  • if putting on, wearing or taking off a face mask will cause you a lot of anxiety or distress (this only applies in England).

If you think any of these reasonable excuses apply to you, speak to a family member or your doctor and they can support you to explore different options.

Remember that it’s important to be kind to yourself, and also to other people. Try not to judge anyone who isn’t wearing a mask, and focus on what you can do to keep yourself safe and well.

Tips for taking care of your mental wellbeing

Many of us have struggled with our mental health during the pandemic. And more restrictions might feel difficult.

But there are things you can try to help yourself cope, and to boost your wellbeing:

Look after your wellbeing

This does not just include sleeping, and what you eat and drink, but also being active, creative, and kind to others – and yourself.

If something helps you feel good, make time to do it. This could be something like drawing or baking, or listening to music.

These things all affect how we think about ourselves, other people, and things that happen around us. You can read more about this on the Mind page on looking after your wellbeing.

“Try to stick to a routine and good sleep pattern. Keep in touch with friends and avoid talking to people who stress you out.”

Stay active indoors

If you’re spending lots of time at home, especially during the winter months, there are plenty of ways to be active. For example:

  • tidying your room
  • helping to clean your home
  • dancing to music 
  • going up and down the stairs 
  • seated exercises
  • doing online workouts or yoga – you could try streaming a free workout or yoga session on YouTube. 

Find new ways to spend time inside

Being creative or taking time to relax may help you accept what is happening. 

You could try: 

  • painting or drawing 
  • writing down your thoughts or creating a short story 
  • exercise videos online, like yoga or dance 
  • playing music 
  • playing a video or computer game 
  • making something out of scrap material or wood. 
Keep in touch with people

Message, call or video-call those you can’t meet up with. It will help you feel connected, and give a sense of things continuing as usual.

You could also send someone a card or a small gift to let them know you’re thinking of them. 

Remember, if you’re friends or family start talking about the coronavirus too much, or you have different views, you can ask them to change the subject.

Benefit from online groups

You may be able to stream a film-watching party with some friends, or find an online singing group you can join.

Just be careful about who you’re connecting with, and don’t join any private groups or chats without your parent or carer’s permission. For advice on how to stay safe online, visit Childline’s website.

Take breaks from social media and the news

You could check them at certain times of the day only, or even switch your phone off for several hours.

You may even be able to block seeing certain words and phrases from your feed, if you feel it would help. Check the settings on the sites you use more information.

Practice self-care

Self-care can help you manage your thoughts and feelings, and may help to improve your mental health.

Ideas include writing a diary, asking for help if you need it, relaxing, and looking after your health.

“I have an achievements jar where I write at least one thing I achieved that day (and date it) and put it in the jar.” 

You can visit The Mix or the Anna Freud Centre for lots more ideas on self-care.

Talk things over with someone you trust

They could be a friend, a family member, carer, a care worker, or a helpline service –  anyone who you feel can give you support for how you’re feeling.

You can read Minds’ information on finding support for more ideas.

“Allow yourself to feel all the emotions you need to… Something that helps me is writing down how I feel, it’s just a great way to process and understand your emotions.”

Tips on how to cope with being at home with others

As we are all spending so much time at home, there’s bound to be a bit of friction at times.

Here are some tips that might help:

Give each other space

Try to respect everyone’s privacy – not everyone may want to talk about something, or hang out at the same time.

Get creative

Do something you wouldn’t normally have time for – play games, watch something together, or give a room a mini-makeover.

Open up

Start the conversation about how you’re feeling, if you feel able to – here is some information on opening up to others to support you.

Ask them how they’re feeling

Your parent, carer or sibling might be feeling a mixture of emotions now, too.

If you’re able to, they may really appreciate you supporting them as well. This could be anything from giving them a hug, to doing something extra around the house, or helping with school work.

If home isn’t safe:

If you’re worried about staying at home with someone because it isn’t safe for you, whether you’re with a partner, family member or friend, the most important thing you can do is keep yourself safe.

Childline and the Hideout have advice on domestic abuse, and Refuge has a free helpline you can ring for support.

What will happen with my treatment or support?

With everything going on, you may be finding it harder to access medication, treatment or support.

It’s still possible to talk to professionals about your health, such as doctors, care workers, and pharmacists. They may have just changed how they’d like you to contact them. For example, your doctor might want to phone you rather than see you at their surgery. 

Remember: doctors and services might seem busy right now, but you still deserve to get the support you need.  

Here’s some information which might help:

If you take prescription medication

You can look into ordering your repeat prescription online, by app, or over the phone – you may need an adult to help you with this. 

If you have symptoms of coronavirus, you should also ask someone to pick up your prescription for you, or ask your pharmacy about home delivery.

If you have therapy, treatment, or other support from mental health services

Changes may be made, or have already been made, to your treatment or care plan because of lockdown.  

You can speak to someone in your mental health team to find out how your support can carry on. Or to see if changes need to be made. They can also support you if a new referral is taking a long time to be processed. 

If you’re having counselling in your school or college, they should tell you what to do over lockdown if you need someone to talk to. 

If you need treatment or support for the first time

If you have been struggling with how you’re feeling for some time, and think you need some support to help you cope, talking to your doctor is a good place to start.

If you don’t want to talk to your doctor, or you’re unsure about what other support is out there for you, you can find more information on Minds’ finding support page as well as looking at this further.

“I would urge anyone who is struggling with their mental health during the pandemic to reach out and seek help.”
-Dr Kate Lovett (Psychiatrist working during coronavirus)

If you have an Education Healthcare (EHC) plan or Statement of Special Education Needs (SEN)

The support you receive under your EHC plan or Statement of SEN might be affected by changes made by the government.

If you’re worried about this or want to talk to someone, you can speak to your council or your school’s Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO).

If you’re about to turn 18 and get a social care package

The government has made changes to the way adult social care is provided. If you’ve turned 18 and want to know more about the changes, you can read about them on Minds’coronavirus and social care rights page.

If you are in England, the government has also made changes to the way your council needs to plan your move from child to adult social care. If you’re receiving care or you’re a young carer, this might affect:

  • the support you receive as you get ready to leave children’s social care
  • the support you receive once you turn 18.

If you’re worried about this or want more information, you can speak to your social worker.

If you’re still not sure what is happening, or what’s going to happen, talk to your parent or carer about what you can do together, so they can help support you until you get more answers.

“It is a myth that services have closed down and help is not available during the pandemic. We are very open and keen to reach out to people who need our help.”
-Dr Kate Lovett (Psychiatrist working during coronavirus)

Tips on supporting others

It’s normal to feel sad or guilty about distancing yourself from someone you love or care about. You might be worried that they’re struggling with less face to face contact, or feel worried about their health over the winter.

But remember that it’s not forever, and it’s about protecting them and looking after them, even from a distance.

If you’re worried about friends or family:

Keep in touch regularly

Sending them texts and pictures, and agreeing a regular time to talk to each other on the phone, will help them feel they’re supported and are being thought of. You could also video call them, if that’s available to you both.

Ask them how they’re feeling

Let them know that you’re there if they want to talk. You can also share this web page with them, or Minds’guide for adults.

Encourage them to stay active

You could encourage them to tidy up around the house, or do some gentle exercises indoors or outside if this is possible.

Ask them about work or school

You may be worried about a family member who is working in unsafe conditions. 

You can show your support for them by checking in, asking how work is and how they’re coping. You could also share the information on Minds’ coping as key worker with them.

You may also be worried about a sibling or friend who is finding school difficult at the minute. You can show your support by checking in on them and giving them space to talk about their feelings.

Show you appreciate them

Send them a message, or say thank you to them on social media through Minds@ #SpeakYourMind challenge on TikTok.

Talk to someone you trust if you’re worried about someone else

They may understand, or even feel the same, and be able to support you.

Where else can I get support?

During this time, you may find you need more support, or want to connect with people who you identify with.

For a list of organisations who can help, visit this pagecoronavirus useful contacts page.

Stay safe

  • If you’re feeling overwhelmed, or like you want to hurt yourself, you can ring HOPELINEUK or text YoungMind’s Crisis Messenger service and a counsellor will talk things through with you. 
  • If you feel like you may attempt suicide, or you have seriously hurt yourself, it’s an emergency. You or a trusted adult should call 999 and ask for an ambulance, even during the coronavirus outbreak.

Mental health emergencies are serious. You are not wasting anyone’s time.

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