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Coronavirus and your wellbeing – for young people

Information for young people on looking after your wellbeing during coronavirus.

This page is also available in Welsh.

Coronavirus and your wellbeing

You might be feeling overwhelmed, sad, or confused about coronavirus. You might also be feeling worried about yourself, your family and friends.

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

Things might feel hard 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:

What can I do if I'm worried about my health?
Do I need to wear a mask?
Tips for taking care of your mental wellbeing
Tips on how to cope with being at home with others
How can I cope with changes to school or college?
What's happening with my treatment or support?
Tips on supporting others
Where else can I get support?

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

"Quarantine is not a holiday – it's an emergency, and emergencies mean less functioning. Don’t let yourself feel bad about this."

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

It's normal to feel worried, sad, scared, 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 that may help you to feel better:

Follow advice from the NHS and Public Health Wales. This includes information about staying at home, washing your hands, wearing 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 on social media and mental health.

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.

If you'd rather talk to someone you don't know, you could call Childline using their confidential service.

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 have been feeling worried. And eating and drinking enough will help you keep your energy up and stay hydrated.

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

"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. 

But 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?

To help stop the spread of coronavirus, we’re being asked to wear face masks or coverings in some public places, like on public transport.

If you live in England, you may also be asked to wear a mask indoors at school or college in areas where it’s hard to socially distance, like corridors or some classrooms.  

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

Anyone over 11 years old should wear a mask, unless they have a ‘reasonable excuse’ not to, like: 

  • if you're not able to put on, wear or take off a mask, because of an illness or disability 
  • if you need to eat, drink or take medicine
  • if putting on, wearing or taking off a face mask will cause you a lot of anxiety or distress (this only applies in England).

If you think any of these reasonable excuses apply to you, speak to a family member or your doctor and they can support you to explore different options.

Remember that 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.

Tips for taking care of your mental wellbeing

Many of us have struggled with our mental health during the pandemic. And now the rules are 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 spending lots of time at home, there are plenty of ways to be 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 your garden, visit the Scouts, Girlguiding and National Trust websites.

Being creative or taking time to relax may help you accept what is happening. 

You could try: 

  • painting or drawing 
  • writing down your thoughts or creating a short story 
  • exercise videos online, like yoga or dance 
  • playing music 
  • playing a video or computer game 
  • making something out of scrap material or wood. 

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

You could also send someone a card or a small gift to let them know you’re thinking of them. 

Remember, if you're friends or family start talking about the 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 singing 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 lots more ideas on 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."

Tips on how to cope with being at home with others

As we are all spending so much time at home, there’s bound to be a bit of friction at times.

Here are some tips that might help:

Try to respect everyone's privacy – not everyone may want to talk about something, or hang out at the same time.

Do something you wouldn't normally have time for – play games, watch something together, or give a room a mini-makeover.

Start the conversation about how you're feeling, if you feel able to – we have information on opening up to others to support you.

Your parent, carer or sibling might be feeling a mixture of emotions now, too.

If you're able to, they may really appreciate you supporting them as well. This could be anything from giving them a hug, to doing something extra around the house, or helping with school work.

If home isn't safe:

If you're 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?

Now schools and colleges are starting to open again, you might feel lots of mixed emotions about what the next few months hold.  

Here's some information which might help:  

Secondary schools, sixth forms and colleges are opening again, but you may notice some things are still different. 

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

You may also be asked to wear a mask in areas where there’s 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, such as 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, or want to help teach you. If you're worried about any of this, you can talk to your school or college. 

Your teachers will be looking at your mock exams and coursework, and working together to create a 'predicted grade'  they think will be an honest representation of what you would achieve.  

If you aren't happy with your grade, you might be able to sit your exams in the autumn, or sit them next summer (2022).   

The government wants you to be able to move on to whatever you want the next stage of your life to be in autumn, whether that's further education, apprenticeships, or higher education. This means they'll be supporting you to do this as much as they can, by changing some of the normal rules.  

You can talk to your teacher if you're still worried or have other questions.  

If you’ve been caring for someone during the pandemic, going back to school or college may feel like a stressful or scary time.

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. 

What's happening with my treatment or support?

With everything going on, you may be finding it harder to access medication, treatment or support.

It's still possible to talk to professionals about your health, such as doctors, care workers, and pharmacists. They may have just changed how they'd like you to contact them. For example, your doctor might want to phone you rather than see you at the surgery. 

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.

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.

Changes may be made, or have already been made, to your treatment or care plan because of lockdown.  

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. 

If you're having counselling in your school or college, they should tell you what to do over lockdown if you need someone to talk to. 

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)

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 feel sad or guilty about distancing yourself from someone you love or care about.

But remember that it's not forever, and it's about protecting and looking after them, even from a distance.

If you're worried about friends or family:

Sending them texts and pictures, and agreeing a regular time to talk to each other on the phone, will help them feel they’re supported and are being thought of. You could also video call them, if that's available to you both.

Let them know that you’re there if they want to talk. You can also share this web page with them, or our guide for adults.

You could encourage them to tidy up around the house, or do some gentle exercises indoors or outside if this is possible.

You may be worried about a family member 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.

You may also be worried about a sibling or friend who is finding school difficult at the minute. You can show your support by checking in on them and giving them space to talk about their feelings.

Send them a message, or say thank you to them on social media through our #SpeakYourMind challenge on TikTok.

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

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're feeling overwhelmed, or like you want to hurt yourself, you can ring HOPELINEUK or text YoungMind's Crisis Messenger service and a counsellor will talk things through with you. 
  • If you feel like you may attempt suicide, or you have seriously hurt yourself, it’s an emergency. You or a trusted adult should call 999 and ask for an ambulance, even during the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Mental health emergencies are serious. You are not wasting anyone's time.

This information was last updated on 4 March 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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