for better mental health

Coronavirus and your wellbeing – for young people

Information for young people on looking after your wellbeing during coronavirus and coping with change.

This page is also available in Welsh (Cymraeg).

Coronavirus and your wellbeing

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

This is completely normal – things keep changing as we learn more about the virus, and although some places are starting to reopen, we still can’t do all the things we usually would.

We're here to give you advice and support to help you through this time.

This page has information on the following:

What is coronavirus?
Some common terms explained
What can I do if I'm worried about my health?
How can I cope with spending more time at home?
What can I do if I'm worried about spending more time at home with others?

What will happen with my treatment or support?
How can I cope with changes to school, college or my job?
What can I do if I'm worried about someone else?
Where else can I get support?

Feeling worried about changes to lockdown?

Read our information to get tips on how to cope and adjust.

What is coronavirus?

The coronavirus is a new disease that is affecting people across the world. It's caused by a virus which affects people's lungs and airways. 

The symptoms may include a high fever, a new cough, or a change to or loss of your sense of taste or smell.  

Experts aren’t completely sure how it’s spread, but there are simple steps you can take to protect yourself and others.

The Mix has a good explanation of what coronavirus is, how it can affect us and how to protect yourself. 

Some common terms explained

The spread of a disease worldwide.

The government has asked us to stay home as much as possible.

Experts have also suggested that we should still ‘socially distance’ to stop the spread of the disease. This means keeping a distance of two metres between yourself and anyone who isn't in your household or bubble. If you can reach out and touch someone – that means you’re probably too close. 

When seeing friends and family you don't live with, you should be in a group of six or less. You should also follow social distancing rules when you meet up.

This means staying at home and not going outside for any reason.

If you have, or think you have, coronavirus, you need to ‘self-isolate.’ This means staying at home for 10 days from the day your symptoms first start. 

If you are well, but someone you live with thinks they may have the virus, you must also stay at home for 14 days from when their symptoms started. This is because it can take two weeks for any symptoms to show.

You may also be contacted by the NHS and asked to self-isolate for 14 days if you've had close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.

People who are self-isolating should use online deliveries, or ask friends, families or neighbours for help with getting food or medicines.

This is another name for self-isolation. It helps stop diseases spreading from yourself to other people.

If you go on holiday abroad, you may have to quarantine when you get back.

People with certain health conditions have been asked to ‘shield’ at home – this means self-isolating to protect themselves from catching coronavirus.

If you are shielding or in a shielding bubble, you are now allowed to spend some time outdoors. You’ll still need to stay two metres apart from people you don’t live with.

"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 natural to feel worried, sad, scared, angry, or annoyed about the coronavirus, feel several emotions at once, or even just feel really confused.

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, how to wash your hands, and 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.

"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.

How can I cope with spending more time at home?

Staying inside more than normal might not feel very fun, especially because it's not your choice, and you may be finding it tough after a couple months.

But there are things you can try which might improve your ability to cope, and boost your wellbeing:

If you can’t go outside, just opening a window and looking out at what's around you, while taking in the sunlight, can help give you a feeling of space. This will also help if you're feeling like you're trapped inside.

There are lots of way you can be active indoors, such as:

  • tidying your room  
  • dancing to music
  • going up and down the stairs
  • doing online exercise 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.

Meet up with family or friends while keeping to social distancing rules, and wearing a face mask if needed. 

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.

If they start talking about the coronavirus too much, or you think differently, you can ask them to change the subject.

Having things to get up for, and knowing what will happen when, may help you feel more in control.

For example, if you can chat to friends at the same time as you would usually see them on the weekend, it may help you feel like things haven't changed as much.

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.

You could check them only at certain times of the day, or even switch your phone off for several hours.

You may even be able to block seeing certain words and phrases from your feed, if you feel it would help. Check the settings on the sites you use more information.

This does not 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 wellbeing page.

"Try to stick to a routine and good sleep pattern. Keep in touch with friends and avoid talking to people who stress you out."

Self-care can help you manage your thoughts and feelings, and may protect your mental health from getting worse.

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, carer, a care worker, 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."

What can I do if I'm worried about spending more time at home with others?

If you live with other people, whether that's your family, flatmates or your partner, there's bound to be a bit of friction at some point as you stay indoors together.

Here are some tips on how to get on well with each other: 

Together, see where you can align your routines, so no-one ends up arguing later over who gets the TV.

If you'd like something, like a movie night or time to yourself, this can also be a good time to agree on it.

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

Spend some time on your own if you want to, as well as time connecting with others.

If you're all at home together, there may be an expectation to split up tasks evenly.

But if someone is studying or working from home, make sure this is taken into account, so it's a fair agreement of who does what, when.

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 – 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.

What will happen with my treatment or support?

With everything going on, you might be concerned about how to access support, medication or treatment.

It's still possible to talk to professionals about your health, such as your 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 their surgery.

Here's some information which might help:

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 have been made to your treatment or care plan in the last six months, and you might be worried about more changes being made again.  

You can speak to someone in your mental health team to find out how your support can carry on, and if other changes need to be made.

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)

The support you receive under your EHC plan or Statement of SEN might be affected by changes made by the government.

If you're worried about this or want to talk to someone, you can speak to your council or your school's Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO).

The government has made changes to the way adult social care is provided. If you've turned 18 and want to know more about the changes, you can read about them here.

If you are in England, the government has also made changes to the way your council needs to plan your move from child to adult social care. If you're receiving care or you're a young carer, this might affect:

  • the support you receive as you get ready to leave children's social care
  • the support you receive once you turn 18.

If you're worried about this or want more information, you can speak to your social worker.

If you're still not sure what is happening, or what's going to happen, talk to your parent or carer about what you can do together, so they can help 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)

How can I cope with changes to school, college or my job?

Now schools and colleges are open againyou might feel lots of mixed emotions about what the next few weeks and months hold. 

Here's some information which might help:

Secondary schools, sixth forms and colleges are back openBut you will have noticed some changes. 

There may be new ways of getting around, smaller class sizes, and more checkpoints to use hand sanitiser or wash your hands. Or you may 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. And 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." 

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 while you’re still a carer, or about how to keep them safe at home if they're shielding. 

The best thing you can do is to talk to your teachers and let them know what’s going on for you. You can work out with them how they can best support you while you start back in education.

You should have been contacted to talk about ways you can get support now your school or college is open again 

If you haven't, please talk to your parent or carer first if you feel able to. Otherwise, contact your school counsellor or chaplain. 

You may see a break from work as a good chance to relax and take up a hobby or some training, but it may also cause you worries around money, security and the future.  

You may find you have less structure to your day, less motivation to do anything, or feel more lonely without the people you work with. Or you may have new responsibilities that are taking up lots of your time instead. 

To look after yourself during this time, you could: 

  • Set up a new routine, so you can rely on doing something at set times. 
  • Keep in contact with your friends from work, sending them a message or arranging a socially-distanced meet-up. 
  • Think about a goal you could set yourself, such as learning something new or setting up an online movie night with others.  
  • Create a budget, if you’re worried about money and you have bills to pay. 
  • Ask your employer for wellbeing check-ins if you're on furlough. So you can talk about how you’re doing, and stay involved in team catch-ups and updates. 

If you’ve lost your job, Citizen’s Advice has information to support you here. 

"I'm going to be starting college and I haven’t been to school or really away from my house since October (because I left school due to anxiety)… it’s probably going to be very difficult."

What can I do if I'm worried about someone else?

It's normal to feel sad or guilty about distancing yourself from someone you love or care about. You might be worried that they’re struggling with less face to face contact, or feel worried about their health.

But remember that it's not forever, and it's about protecting them 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 even 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.

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.

For a list of organisations who can help, visit our coronavirus useful contacts page.

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 25 September 2020. 

  • The content reflects the best advice we have at this time. We will update it as necessary, particularly if there are changes to public health guidance.
  • If you are re-using this content elsewhere, please link to the page directly rather than quoting or summarising what we've said, to prevent information that may be outdated from being shared.
  • We welcome any feedback on what we've covered here, or anything you'd like us to include. To leave a comment, click the thumbs up/down buttons above.

Share this information

arrow_upwardBack to Top