Child mental health and wellbeing
Taking care of physical and mental health is crucial at this time: read our practical tips.
We know that during lockdown many parents/carers have had concerns about the impact of school closures on their child’s mental health. Many families will have experienced loss and trauma. That is why the NEU believes the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people should be a key priority.
As a parent/carer you will play a huge role in supporting your child’s wellbeing and learning while normal patterns of education are disrupted. Below are some tips and links to resources to help you:
Help your child connect with peers
Whether your child is at school or learning at home, helping them to continue to connect with their friends is important for their wellbeing. If your child is remote learning, revisit the ways you helped your child stay connected with other during the last lockdown, such as online or by phone. Check out Childnet for tips on how to help your child safely stay connected with others online. If your child is able to see some of their friends face to face because they are attending school, it is likely that social distancing will mean that they will not be able to learn or play with their friends in the way they normally would. Try to talk to your child about the arrangements at school, including changes to the school day and the layout of their classroom and how it makes them feel.
Reassure your child about their learning
Your child may be worried about their learning during lockdown for a range of reasons. If your child is in year 11 or 13, they may be particularly anxious that they are behind in their learning and how they will be fairly assessed. You can find out more about the NEU’s position and advice on assessment here. Tips to help your child manage exam anxiety can be found here.
If your child is particularly worried that they are behind in learning, it may be helpful to explain what extra support is in place to help them with their learning, and that teachers will be there to help every pupil with gaps in their education. If you are concerned that your child cannot access learning remotely for whatever reason, we encourage you to get in touch with the school to see what they can do to support you.
Resources to support parents with their child’s learning can be found here, including ways to keep your child physically active and learning creatively- both important for wellbeing.
Talk about the coronavirus and school safety
Lots of children will feel anxious about coronavirus and how to stay safe, whether they are learning at home or at school. Talk to your child about how they feel and if they have concerns or anxieties. If your child is learning on-site and safety is a key concern, reassure them about what measures their school has put in place to keep everyone safe. For further information on how to support your child if they are feeling worried, take a look at UNICEFs FAQs for parents/carers , as well as the websites below.
Help your child stay fit and active
Helping your child to stay active will help to support good mental wellbeing. During lockdown you and your family can leave your home to exercise, once per day in your local area.
There are resources on this website that may provide inspiration for how to weave in physical activity during the school day. Other useful websites include:
If your child is attending on-site, schools have the flexibility to decide how physical education, sport and physical activity will be provided to pupils attending school while following the measures to keep everyone safe and socially distanced.
Look after your own mental health and wellbeing
You may be experiencing enormous stress and personal trauma during this period. New arrangements for your child’s learning may also be challenging, as the whole family readjusts to new routines. The mental health charity Mind offers tips and coping strategies for good mental health. Other helpful links are below.
Know where to get further support
Make sure that you know who to contact at school if you or your child need additional mental health support. Schools will have considered what support they can provide to support pupil wellbeing during lockdown and you should be aware of what new arrangements and/or additional pastoral support will be in place. The NEU has also put together a list of national helplines that may be helpful to support your family.
Other useful websites for parents, children and young people to support mental health and wellbeing include:
If your child has a specific diagnosed mental health condition or has a special educational need or learning disability, you may find the following websites useful:
If you or your child are struggling to cope and need extra support, there are a number of national phonelines you can call. For more information, take a look at these online posters with information about support services.
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National Education Union, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9BD