Supporting children and young people’s mental health

Last updated: 20 Apr 2021 Topics: News Type: COVID
Overview
Teenager with mental health issues at home during coronavirus

Coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions are easing across the UK. But it’s still important that we all pay attention to our mental health and wellbeing and the mental health of children and young people. The pandemic has affected everyone’s mental wellbeing, particularly vulnerable groups such as children.

Children and young people may feel worried or anxious about different things. Beyond the virus itself, children may be spending more time at home, the school environment and routine will be different, and they might not be able to see family and friends in the same way as before.

They might also have experienced someone close to them, such as a family member, carer, friend or teacher, becoming seriously ill or dying. This can cause feelings of sadness, loss and grief.

We’ve pulled together some resources to help you support the children and young people and families you know and work with through this challenging time.

You might want to use these resources yourself or share them with parents and carers to help them support their children. You may also want to share some of these resources directly with the children and young people you work with.

NSPCC Helpline

If you need advice and support about a child, or if you are concerned about a child’s wellbeing, talk to us. It’s free and you don’t have to say who you are.

Call 0808 800 5000, email help@nspcc.org.uk or visit nspcc.org.uk/helpline.

Keeping up-to-date

You can keep up to date on the most recent guidance during the coronavirus pandemic by subscribing to our CASPAR newsletter.

Our free information service is still open, helping professionals find the resources they need to keep children safe. Find out how to contact us.

Resources for you

Resources for people who work or volunteer with children

Child mental health

Our information about child mental health can help you recognise and respond to concerns. It includes:

  • risk and vulnerability factors for mental health problems
  • identifying mental health difficulties
  • how to talk to children and young people about their mental health
  • where children and young people can get support.

> Read more about child mental health

We’ve also put together some information about how you can promote children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing, including:

  • online wellbeing
  • encouraging children to find ways to express themselves
  • sharing tips with parents and carers.

> Find out about promoting mental health and wellbeing

Additional needs and disabilities

Children with special educational needs, additional needs and disabilities may experience extra challenges that make it harder to cope with the changes related to the pandemic, communicate how they feel, and access support. This can all affect their mental health and they may need extra support at this time.

> Read about safeguarding d/Deaf and disabled children

> Find out about safeguarding children with special educational needs, additional needs and disabilities

Coping with stress

Children might feel stressed as some restrictions remain in place and they can’t do all the same activities they used to. This can impact their mental health and development. We’ve produced information on how stress can impact children along with steps you can take to help reduce its impact.

> Read about the effects of stress on children and what you can do to help

How to have difficult conversations with children

You may need to talk to children and young people about difficult or sensitive topics, for example the coronavirus pandemic, serious illness and death. This page can help you prepare for a challenging conversation and provides guidance on how you can discuss difficult topics in a sensitive and supportive way.

> Get advice on how to prepare for a difficult conversation

What children and young people are saying to Childline about coronavirus

We’re sharing a series of briefings highlighting what children are talking to Childline about in relation to coronavirus. The briefings will help you understand how children’s mental health and wellbeing is being affected, what their main concerns are and what support they might need.

> Read the briefings

Supporting children and young people with worries about COVID-19

Emerging Minds, a research network that we’re a part of, has published evidence-based advice on how to talk about and respond to children and young people’s worries and anxieties about coronavirus. It includes advice on how to talk to them in a supportive way and links to helpful resources grouped by age category.

> Take a look at the advice by Emerging Minds

Reading list for children who are worried or anxious

The NSPCC Library and Information Service has created a reading list of books that you can share and use with children who may be feeling worried or anxious.

> View the reading list

Child protection newsletters

You can keep up to date on the most recent guidance during the coronavirus pandemic by subscribing to our newsletters.

> Sign up to CASPAR

> Sign up to the NSPCC Learning newsletter

Information service

Our free information service is still open, helping professionals find the resources they need to keep children safe.

> Find out how to contact us

NSPCC Helpline

If you need advice and support about a child, or if you are concerned about a child’s wellbeing, talk to us. It’s free and you don’t have to say who you are.

Call 0808 800 5000, email help@nspcc.org.uk or visit nspcc.org.uk/helpline.

Resources for parents and carers

Resources to share with parents and carers

Depression, anxiety and mental health

The NSPCC has put together advice for parents and carers about how to help children who may be struggling with depression or anxiety during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Information includes signs of depression and anxiety and what parents and carers can do to help a child or young person who may be struggling.

> See the NSPCC website for advice on depression, anxiety and mental health

Self-harm

This resource on the main NSPCC website provides information on why children and young people self-harm, how parents and carers can identify signs and how to support children who might be affected.

> Get more information about self-harm on the NSPCC website

COVID-19: guidance on supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing

Public Health England (PHE) has released new guidance for parents and carers on how to support the mental health of children and young people during the coronavirus outbreak (Public Health England, 2021)1. Although this is published by PHE the guidance it provides might be helpful for people living in other nations.

> Share the new guidance with parents and carers

References

Public Health England (2021) COVID-19: guidance on supporting children and young people's mental health and wellbeing. [Accessed 16/04/2021].
Resources for children and young people

Resources for children and young people

The Childline website has a variety of resources that children and young people can access. Childline also provides free confidential support through online chat, phone or email where young people can speak to our counsellors about any concerns they may have.

Worries about the world: coronavirus

Childline has a dedicated coronavirus page which provides:

  • information about coronavirus using age-appropriate language
  • tips on how to cope during social distancing measures
  • advice on how to cope with anxiety
  • details of where children can go for help and support.

> Share this with children and young people you work or volunteer with

Dealing with loss and bereavement

Helpful information and advice on loss and bereavement such as:

  • how to cope when someone dies
  • the range of emotions children may feel
  • saying goodbye
  • and who to talk to.

> Advice for children who may be dealing with loss and bereavement

Online tools

Childline provides online tools that children and young people may find helpful: