A challenging event like the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic can affect everyone’s mental health. Each of us is doing our best to look after ourselves. But young people and children might need extra attention and support.
For some people, there is a sense of a ‘new normal’ and of getting used to these temporary circumstances. As the situation evolves, anxiety levels may change. Others will find it an increasingly difficult and anxious time. But for most, there will be ups and downs on a daily basis.
Stress can become a problem when it starts to affect how you cope with day-to-day stuff.
The coronavirus pandemic is something you could not have prepared for. This may have an impact on how you are feeling about your exams.
How you can mind younger people’s mental health
Continue to talk about what is going on but remember you might feel anxious at this time too. Children and teenagers will often take a lead from adults.
Stay calm and manage your own anxieties first. You’re not alone and you can check out support and information services for advice.
Explain that it’s normal to feel anxious about coronavirus. But reassure younger people that it is less common and severe in children. Remind them there are things they can do to stay safe.
Make time for younger people to check in with friends and family they may be worried about. They can do this by phone or video call, so they can see they are okay.
Keep younger people informed about what is going on. Use words and language they can understand. Try not to overwhelm them with unnecessary information.
Let them know, in a reassuring way, that someone they know might get sick and need to go to hospital for a little while. Tell them that the doctors and nurses will try and help them feel better.
Keep up routines
Routines give children and younger people an increased sense of safety. As much as possible, during the week, stick to your regular time of getting up and going to bed. Make a plan for the week that works for you and include physical activities that they enjoy. You can also create new routines. Children benefit from about 60 minutes of regular exercise or movement a day.
Find things you enjoy doing and allow time for relaxing. Try some breathing exercises and relaxation techniques.
Don’t feel bad about allowing a little extra screen time, whether that’s to watch a family movie. Take part in online group activities, or simply to give yourself a small break.
Accessing CAMHS during COVID-19
Your child may be currently accessing Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). If they are, it is important that they continue to engage with their mental health team. This will support their recovery.
HSE CAMHS community services are still providing face-to-face appointments where necessary. Many CAMHS teams are also providing one-to-one appointments over the phone.
Your mental health team can go through options with you over the phone.
Freephone 1800 111 888anytime for your local services phone number.
The CAMHS service is open for referrals and GPs can make referrals.
If your child experiences a mental health crisis contact your:
- public health nurse
- local Emergency Department (ED)
For those already engaged in services they should call their local community team.
There are also other service providers that offer online and phone mental health supports and services.
- online counselling
- phone and text services
- online supports