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Supporting your teen's wellbeing during coronavirus

Information for parents and carers of young people aged 11-18 who are worried about their wellbeing and want to know how to support them.

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

Supporting your teen's wellbeing during coronavirus

You might be feeling worried about your young person’s wellbeing or mental health, or how they're coping with the pandemic.

This page has tips on how to support your teen's wellbeing, including advice on ways to get help. For information on how to look after your own wellbeing, visit our coronavirus information hub.

We're here to support you and your family through this time.

This page has information on the following:

Looking after your own wellbeing

Over the pandemic, you may have been juggling work and family life with little or no support. As a result, you might be feeling low, worried, stressed, angry or even apathetic about the pandemic. 

Caring for others might also mean you don’t feel like you have much time to look after your own wellbeing. But it’s even more important to take care of yourself when you’re supporting others.

For information on how to look after your own wellbeing, visit our coronavirus information hub.

The feeling of losing time, not doing the things we could usually plan for and that we’ve missed opportunities and precious time. My son missing out on schooling and other experiences that he will now never get the opportunity to do.

How do I explain changes to the rules?

Your teen may have heard different things about changes to government guidance or vaccinations and boosters. They might feel positive about what they've heard, or they might feel worried or confused.

It’s important to recognise how they're feeling, provide reassurance and separate fact from fiction.

Here are some tips for talking to them about changes to the rules:

 When you talk, try to:

  • Listen to their worries and take them seriously – what they're thinking and feeling is important and should be respected.
  • Let them know that it’s okay to feel worried, scared or angry. Tell them if you feel worried too, and that a certain amount of worry is normal.
  • Acknowledge if their worries are very unlikely – not by saying 'it's fine', but with facts.
  • Recognise this is a tough time for young people. They may be trying to rebuild relationships with their friends or partners, or be worried about what their future holds.

Ask them what they've heard about the vaccine or how the rules are changing, and help them to understand if what they’ve heard is true or not.

Use facts from trustworthy sources, like the NHS or the government. You can visit these pages for the latest government guidance:

Or you could offer to watch an unbiased news source together, such as BBC News. This will help to challenge any incorrect information they may have heard. 

If you're worried about how much news they are seeing or where they are getting information from, encourage them to limit their intake by only checking at a certain time of the day or consider avoiding certain sites that aren’t helpful.

You can help your young person understand what changes to the rules might mean for them and their life.  

Planning could include how and when they can see their friends or partners.

They may feel upset, but talking to them about it may help them to cope with changes.

Reminding them of your love and support will help them feel safe and reassured if they want to talk.

How can I support my teen's wellbeing?

Your teen might be feeling a mixture of emotions about the rules changing. This can be really worrying and stressful for you both.

We're living through a period of change, so it's natural to feel concerned or unsure about what to do.

You're not alone and there are lots of things you can try to support your teen:

Your teen might be feeling a mixture of emotions right now. They could be feeling annoyed or worried, or sad or worn down by the length of the pandemic. Our page on managing feelings about changes to lockdown has more on what they may be feeling.

However they're feeling, it's important to acknowledge their thoughts and emotions.

You could try to:

  • Suggest mindfulness or journalling as a way for them to process their thoughts.
  • Help them to manage their worries by having time set aside each day for ‘worry time’, where they can talk to you about how they're feeling.
  • Ask them what advice they would give to a friend who was feeling worried.
  • If they’re feeling anxious, encourage them to try simple breathing techniques. For example, breathing in for a count of four and breathing out for a count of seven.
  • Share what helps you when you feel anxious or stressed. For example, doing some exercise or going for a walk. Encourage them to see if this helps them to manage their feelings.
  • Focus on things they can control, like choosing how they spend their free time.
  • Remind them that events like this don't happen often, and it won't be forever.

They may not be able to see everyone they want to at the minute.

Encourage your teen to virtually connect with their friends, partners and family. You could also try to be more lenient with their mobile phone and social media use if it's helping them feel connected.

I am grateful for the good things that came from the pandemic – more time and deeper understanding of each other with my daughter and partner, and teaching 'Granny' to play Facebook messenger video call games.

Their lives have changed a lot over the past couple of years.

Exams have been cancelled and they've been apart from friends, partners and family. They may also feel unsafe at the prospect of catching coronavirus, or worried about getting the vaccine or booster.

It may help to:

  • Encourage them to do what they can to look after themselves and other people.
  • Look at mindfulness or journalling as a way for them to process their thoughts.
  • Include them when talking about plans for the future, and ways they can help your family to stay safe.
  • Encourage them to find ways to exercise safely, for their physical and mental wellbeing.

You could encourage your teen to think about if they want to contribute to home life or wider society.

There are also lots of volunteering opportunities that they could take part in, such as virtual befriending or volunteering at a food bank. You can find your nearest food bank on the Trussell Trust's website.

Your teen may feel like they've lost their independence over the pandemic. 

Try to find ways to give them time and space on their own, as well as spending time together.

Taking my son for a walk everyday was a highlight of the various lockdowns and was sometimes the only point in the day that I felt we both enjoyed.

Sadly, during this time your teen may have experienced the death of someone they know. This may be because of coronavirus or it may be unrelated.

The pandemic also meant that there were restrictions around the usual ways we grieve. For example, it may not have been possible for them to attend the funeral in person, and this may have made it harder for them to process their loss.

For more information on supporting your teen with grief, visit the Hope Again website. We also have information for adults about bereavement and grief, which you might like to read.

Some young people may have caring responsibilities for family members. They may feel anxious about what will happen if the person they care for becomes unwell, or if they become unwell themselves.

To help manage their anxiety, you could help them make a plan for if this happens. The plan could include the contact details of individuals and organisations that can offer support to your teen, such as Carers UK and YACbook.

You could also let your teen know about our coronavirus content hub for young people.

This includes information on coronavirus and wellbeing, managing feelings about lockdown easing, plus lots of tips from other young people.

Help with negative coping strategies

Drugs and alcohol – They may be tempted to manage their feelings by taking drugs and alcohol. Supporting your teen to manage their feelings in other positive ways can be helpful. If you're worried about drugs and alcohol, YoungMind’s have a guide for parents, including advice on where to get help.

Self-harm – They may use self-harm as a way to manage difficult emotions. Self-harm can feel like a difficult subject to talk about, but it’s not uncommon. And with time and the right support, young people can learn other ways to cope. If you think your teen is self-harming, YoungMind’s have a guide for parents that you may find helpful. You could also read and share our information on coping with self-harm with them.

Help for eating problems – Some young people, as well as some adults, may over or under eat as a way to manage their feelings.

How can I help my teen stay safe online?

Social media and online spaces have provided positive experiences for many young people during the pandemic.

But the internet is not always a safe place. If you're worried about your teen staying safe online, here’s some things to consider:

Encouraging your teen to balance the amount of time they spend on their phone with other activities can be challenging, especially if they need to spend more time at home.

Setting rules around your own screen time could help you to promote healthy boundaries.

Try to involve your teen in these discussions. For example, you could ask them how they feel increased screen time might be affecting their wellbeing.

Social media can help your teen to stay connected to friends or partners, but it might also make them feel anxious, worried or upset.

If social media is making them feel like this, you could suggest that they take a break or limit use.

You could also suggest they change what they look at. For example, they might decide to view particular groups or pages but not scroll through timelines or newsfeeds.

It makes me feel relieved to see that other people are going through the same thing.

We know it can be difficult to talk about online safety with your teen.

The NSPCC has information on talking to young people about online safety, to support you in conversations with your teen.

How can I support my teen with changes to school or college?

School or college play a big role in the lives of many teens, and changes could be having a significant impact on how they're feeling.

Here's some guidance on how to support your teen with their worries:

Your teen might be finding it difficult or stressful to go into school or college.

Depending on whether they’re in England or Wales, they may need to take regular coronavirus tests, wear masks or follow modified timetables.

In this situation you could:

  • Ask them how they feel about going into school, and if there's anything you can do together to make it easier for them.
  • Listen to how they're feeling and don't dismiss them.
  • Share our information about managing feelings about lockdown changing with your teen.

My 14-year-old daughter has bailed out of three schools and has hardly had any education for 14 months due to anxiety.

This could be difficult for them, especially if they’re away from their friends again, or struggle to concentrate or feel motivated at home.

You can find guidance for yourself and your teen from the UK Government website. You could also find support from sites such as BBC Bitesize or Twinkl.

This has been a time of greater uncertainty for your teen – their care may have been paused or changed, and their daily routines may have had to change a lot.

If they're feeling worried, you could help them understand the new guidance around coronavirus and how to remain safe.

You can find further advice and support from the following:

  • The UK government have further information you can read on how to support your teen in these circumstances.
  • Mencap have an online hub for parents and carers of young people with learning difficulties and autism.
  • The National Autistic Society also has an Autism Helpline for general advice.


I have a younger child with autism I've home schooled throughout. The mental impact of worrying about school fines for keeping him home to protect my eldest has been overwhelming.

I have a teenager at home who really struggled with the first lockdown and as time went by this caused me to feel a lot more anxious and worried for her mental health.

Accessing support and treatment for my teen’s mental health

If your teen starts showing behaviours that are worrying for you, it’s important to seek help.

You may be unsure about what types of treatment and support are available at the moment, and how they may have changed

It's important to know that help is still out there.

My teen's mental health is in crisis

If your teen has a mental health support worker, or has been given another crisis contact number, contact them. Follow your teen's crisis care plan, if they have one.

Let your teen know they can ring HOPELINEUK or text YoungMind's Crisis Messenger service and a counsellor will talk things through with them. 

If your teen is hurt, or you feel they're an immediate danger to themselves or others, this is an emergency and you should call 999.

This is a difficult time, and your teen may need support that they didn't before.

You can discuss this with them and you can ask their GP, or their current mental health team if they have one, if they can access counselling or other support.

For teens who may need support in seeking help for the first time, you can show them our information on finding support.

I have a teenager at home who really struggled with the first lockdown and as time went by this caused me to feel a lot more anxious and worried for her mental health.

You can contact the service to tell them about your concerns. You can ask if theyre able to arrange face-to-face appointments again or how your teen can access appointments in a different format, such as over the phone or online.

If their mental health support has been stopped, or you cannot contact the service, you can try:

  • contacting their GP and asking for advice
  • contacting YoungMinds' Parents Helpline for advice or filling in their online email form – please note, due to call demand there may be a waiting time before you are connected
  • talking to your teen about how you can create a temporary support plan together at home.

This can be tough for your young person to deal with, as well as yourself. While you’re waiting they can try:

  • looking at Childline's website for support - or talking confidentially to their counsellors for free
  • contacting a teacher, school nurse or member of their pastoral team at school or college – to see what changes can be made and what support they can get
  • talking to their doctor – to ask if they have any tips for while they wait
  • writing in a journal or in a notes app – about how they’re feeling and what is and isn’t helping them.

You can look into ordering your teen's repeat prescription online, by app, or over the phone – either through their GP surgery or directly from a registered pharmacist.

If you still need to limit their interactions outside, or they need to self-isolate, you could talk to their pharmacist about home deliveries, or arrange to collect it for them.

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)

If home isn't safe

If you are living, or think you are living, with someone who is abusing you, your teen or anyone else in your home, please make yourselves as safe as possible.

Here's some information which can help:

  • Women's Aid provides safety advice for abuse survivors and young people, including if you're not sure if you're being abused.
  • Survivors UK has a helpline for all male-identifying abuse survivors of any age via text, WhatsApp, or online messaging.
  • The freephone, 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline is available for all concerns.
  • Your teen can contact these charities for support at any time, as well as The Hideout, which is for young people directly.

If you or your teen are at immediate risk, you should call 999
. If you are concerned that your teen may be at risk, you can speak to your council's safeguarding team.

Where else can I get further help and support?

See our page of useful contacts for a list of services and organisations which may help you to support your teen.

Our coronavirus information hub also has a range of resources for adults, to support your wellbeing during this time.

We have spent a lot of time with our two sons, who have both been amazing, and we've learnt a lot about them and ourselves.

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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