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Coronavirus and your wellbeing – for 11-18 year olds

Information for 11-18 year olds on looking after your wellbeing during coronavirus.

Mae'r dudalen hon hefyd ar gael yn Gymraeg. This link will take you to a Welsh translation of this page.

Coronavirus and your wellbeing

You might be feeling overwhelmed, uneasy or confused about coronavirus and government restrictions changing again. You might also be feeling worried about yourself, your family or friends.

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

Things might feel hard or confusing 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:

If you’re at university, you can read our guide on student mental health during coronavirus for help and support.

My anxiety has been heightened due to not knowing what’s going on. One minute we’re told we’re in lockdown, and then we’re not and then we are again. That is distressing for me.

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

It's normal to feel worried, sad, 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:

Keep following advice from the NHS and Public Health Wales. This includes information about when you may need to stay at home or wear 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.

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.

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 about social media and mental health.

Try not to look at social media and the news too much, difficult as that may be.

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.

You can also doodle or write down how you’re feeling in a journal or notebook. 

If you'd rather talk to someone you don't know, you could call a confidential helpline, like Childline.

Remember, it’s okay to ask for help. Even if you’re not sure what’s wrong, you always deserve support.

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 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.

Sleep is very important, especially if you've been feeling worried. If you have trouble sleeping, you can try listening to some calming music or a guided meditation before going to bed. 

Eating and drinking enough will help you keep your energy up and stay hydrated. Getting outside for a walk or to spend some time in nature can help too. If you aren't able to go outside, you could appreciate nature by looking after a plant or playing nature sounds.

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

You might be excited about being vaccinated against coronavirus or getting your booster. Or you might be unsure but want to know more about it. 

The NHS website can explain the different types of vaccine and let you know when it’s your turn to be vaccinated. 

Think about the vaccine and how we are one step closer to returning to normal life.

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. 

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?

The law says you have to wear masks or face coverings in some public places, like in shops, hospitals and on public transport. 

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

You might not have to wear a mask if you have a physical or mental health problem that makes it difficult for you to wear a mask. You might hear this called being ‘exempt’, or having a ‘mask exemption’.

Remember: 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. 

I find wearing masks makes me feel claustrophobic and this makes it difficult to communicate with others.

Tips for taking care of your mental wellbeing

Many of us have struggled with our mental health during the pandemic. And now the situation is changing again, things might feel difficult.

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

This doesn't 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 our 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.

If you’re still not comfortable being outside, or you need to self-isolate, there are plenty of ways to stay 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. 

For more ideas on activities you can do indoors or in a garden, visit the Scouts and Girlguiding websites.

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

If you find this difficult, you could also send someone a card or a small gift to let them know you’re thinking of them.

I'm not very good at messaging and I hate video chats (I'm much better face-to-face), so I have lost touch with people to a point where I don't think we will see each other again.

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

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

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 more ideas on how to practice self-care.

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

You can read our 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.

If home isn't safe:

You might be 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.

How can I cope with changes to school or college?

You might feel lots of mixed emotions about what the next few months hold.   

Here's some information that might help:

Things might still look and feel different at school, sixth form or college. 

There may be different ways of getting around campus, smaller class sizes, and more checkpoints to use hand sanitiser or wash your hands. 

You may also be asked to wear a mask in areas where there are lots of students. Your teachers will be able to explain more to you.  

If you’re nervous or worried, you can talk to your parent or carer, or a teacher, about how you’re feeling.  Remember to be kind to yourself, it will feel weird for a while.

One thing to remind ourselves is that what's happening is beyond our control right now. 

Your school or college will let you know ways you can continue learning at home. For example, sending you work by email or post, providing virtual lessons, and finding ways to provide support from teachers.  

Your parents or carers may also be sent information to help you study.

If you're worried about any of this, or you aren’t able to have support from a parent or carer, you can talk to your school or college.  

If you’re caring for someone during the pandemic, school or college may feel difficult or stressful. 

You may be worried about being able to keep up with your studies, or about how to keep them safe at home.   

The best thing you can do is talk to your teacher and let them know what's going on for you and how they can support you. 

Action for Carers also has a guide on how to make an emergency plan, which you could share with your teachers or loved ones. 

Overthinking a lot and being a young carer. It’s been really hard with the pandemic and I have constantly worried for my family's mental health.

What's happening with my treatment or support?

You may be facing problems getting treatment or support for your mental health. 

It's still possible to talk to professionals about your mental health, like doctors, care workers and pharmacists. They may be happy to see you face-to-face, or might want to phone you rather than see you in person. 

You may also be put on a waiting list or given an appointment that feels far away in the future. If this happens, you can ring the service to see if a closer appointment has become available, or talk to your doctor. 

Remember: it's always ok to ask for help for your mental health.

You are not wasting anyone’s time, whether you're having ongoing treatment or seeking support for the first time.

Changes may be made, or have already been made, to your treatment or care plan. And more changes may be made as things open up again. 

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.  

Your school or college may be able to offer you some counselling or support too.

Corona delayed the help I needed to receive, and made a lot of things either online or via phone which worsened my anxiety.

This can be tough for you to deal with, but while you’re waiting you can try: 

  • looking at Childline's website for support, or talking confidentially to one of their counsellors 
  • talking to your doctor, to ask if they have any tips for what you can do while you wait 
  • writing in a journal or in a notes app, about how you’re feeling and what is and isn’t helping you. 

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 our finding support page.

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)

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're still not sure what is happening, or what's going to happen, talk to your parent or carer about how they can 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 worry about how your family, friends or partner are coping during this time. 

Here are some ways you can support them:

Sending them texts and pictures, and agreeing a regular time to talk, will help them feel they’re supported.  

You can reach out to them and let them know that you’re there if they want to talk, and offer them a hug or a shoulder to cry on. You can also share this web page with them, or our guide for adults.

You could encourage them to pick up a hobby like drawing or playing guitar, or play games with you online if this is possible. 

You may be worried about someone 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 our information on coping as key worker with them.

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

Earlier on in the pandemic, I was worrying about coronavirus directly. But in the last few months it has been about different things, like worrying about how my dad is coping.

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.

We have information on finding support and talking to a doctor which you might find helpful.

For a list of other organisations who can help, visit our coronavirus useful contacts page. Many organisations offer text or instant messaging services for extra privacy.

Stay safe

If you feel overwhelmed, or like you want to hurt yourself, support is available for you to talk things through. You deserve help as soon as you need it.

To talk with someone confidentially about how you feel, you can:

If you feel like you may attempt suicide, or you have seriously hurt yourself, this is an emergency. You can:

  • Call 999 and ask for an ambulance.
  • Tell an adult you trust and ask them to call 999 for help.

Mental health emergencies are serious. You aren't wasting anyone's time.

I push forward as I know better days are to come.

This information was last updated on 21 December 2021. 

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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