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Dear Parents and Carers
It’s only natural that children and young people will feel deeply unsettled by the drastic changes to their daily routine and reduction in their support networks that have come about as part of the national effort to tackle COVID-19.
It is well documented that worrying can be contagious. The ‘mirror neurons’ in the brain that give us the capacity to empathise with and understand one another, also mean we can soak up anxiety and frustration. Young people look to adults to tell them how to respond to stressful and emotionally challenging situations like the one we are all facing at the present time. They don’t need us to have all the answers; we can help them simply by modelling healthy ways of coping and setting an example in how we consume and react to the news and social media.
To support parents and carers with this and to maintain our ongoing commitment to the emotional wellbeing of our students, we’ll be publishing this Mental Health & Wellbeing Bulletin on a fortnightly basis whilst our school is closed. You’ll find tips, safe online resources for maintaining good mental health, and advice about how to help your child cope with the emotional impact of social distancing. I’ll also be sharing some positive news stories and acts of kindness happening around the globe, to balance out all the negativity.
With best wishes
Mrs Hannah Williams – Mental Health Lead, Myton School
The charity Anxiety UK suggests practising the ‘Apple’ technique to deal with anxiety and worries.
- Acknowledge: Notice and acknowledge the uncertainty as it comes to mind.
- Pause: Don’t react as you normally do. Don’t react at all. Pause and breathe.
- Pull back: Tell yourself this is just the worry talking, and this apparent need for certainty is not helpful and not necessary. It is only a thought or feeling. Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts are not statements or facts.
- Let go: Let go of the thought or feeling. It will pass. You don’t have to respond to them. You might imagine them floating away in a bubble or cloud.
- Explore: Explore the present moment, because right now, in this moment, all is well. Notice your breathing and the sensations of your breathing. Notice the ground beneath you. Look around and notice what you see, what you hear, what you can touch, what you can smell. Right now. Then shift your focus of attention to something else – on what you need to do, on what you were doing before you noticed the worry, or do something else – mindfully with your full attention.
For more advice about how children and adults with pre-existing anxiety symptoms can manage the impact of the current crisis on their mental health go to the Anxiety UK website
Cove – Improving Mental Health through Music
Not everyone finds talking helpful. If you have a musical child or young person at home they may find it easier to express and explore their thoughts and feelings using Cove. This is a free app, recommended by the NHS, that helps to improve mental health through the power of music. (more…)
Reading or listening to an audiobook can be a great way to relax and distract yourself from anxious thoughts.
Audible have announced that while schools are closed due to COVID-19, they will be offering hundreds of free audiobooks to children and teenagers because, as they say: “Stories help. They entertain, they teach, they keep young minds active and engaged”.
Go to Audible for more details.
Unicef has shared some advice from Adolescent Psychologist, Dr Lisa Damour on how teenagers can practise good self-care while socially distancing. Read the advice from Dr Lisa Damour
Life slowly returning to normal in China
After reporting no new domestic cases in Wuhan on Thursday, and infections dropping sharply, restrictions across China are starting to ease. In Shanghai, the shopping district has re-opened and residents in Beijing have been taking to the streets, albeit cautiously. This has sparked hope of life returning to normal.
Hundreds of children sing to elderly care home residents in isolation
On their last day before school closed, hundreds of primary school pupils in Manchester took to their playground to perform for older residents isolating from coronavirus in the flats opposite. Watch the video here
How Premier League clubs are trying to help
English football has been suspended until at least 30 April because of the continued spread of coronavirus. Premier League clubs across the country have been using the downtime to carry out vital work in their communities, from donating food to charities and food banks to holding online coaching and yoga sessions. Football legends Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville have opened their hotels to NHS workers, saying it was time to ‘show solidarity in uncertain times’.