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Mental health advice for teenagers during COVID-19

It’s important that you remember it’s ok to feel down, lonely and bored during this time. Here’s some help and advice on what you can do to keep mentally healthy during the coronavirus outbreak. Parents and carers supporting anxious and worried teenagers may find this information useful too.

A level and GCSE results

Results day can be extremely stressful for students and this year may bring more anxiety than normal, due to the cancellation of exams and the coronavirus pandemic itself.

If your results are not what you wanted there is plenty of help available to you –speak to your teachers at school or college to talk about your options and find out the practical support on hand. Make sure you have a fully charged mobile phone and a notebook and pen with you so you can access and make notes about the support available to you. 

It might help to think about a Plan B if necessary, this could mean an alternative place to study or different course maybe.

If your results make you feel low and in need of help to support your emotional well-being, then there are online services that can support you.

  • Kooth is an online counselling service that young people (11-18) can access from their phone, simply log in and can access a range of mental health support.
  • Young Minds is another online service providing support to young people and parents.
  • GCSE age students can also talk to a Public Health Nurse (School Nurse) using Chat Health – just text 07520 615386.
    • service available: 9am-5pm every weekday, excluding bank holidays. Text line stays open during the school holidays too and guarantees that you will receive a response within 24 hours Monday to Friday.

If you are really struggling and finding it hard then you may want to call your GP for extra help and support.

Find ways to boost your mood

Mindfulness can help you relax, and the app Headspace includes exercise guides, videos and more to help you feel happier. 

Read real stories and blogs from others your age on the Young Minds mental health website and find out how they are coping during self-isolation.

You could write a story, put on a fashion show, read a book or do some colouring. There are lots of games you could play too. Do you have a classic board games at home that the family could play together? You could play online games and connect with your friends. Make sure you stay safe online and ensure you know when it’s time to switch off.

Talk with friends and family members

Try to stay in touch with family and friends over social media or by telephone. If you can, video call where possible so you can see the person that you are talking to, apps such as WhatsApp and Facetime allow you to add more than one person to the call.

Talk about what is going on but make sure you use reputable sources of information to help separate fact from fiction and try and limit your exposure to the news. Sometimes constant exposure can increase anxiety. If possible, turn notifications off on your devices and check the news once a day.

Seek support and advice from services

There are lots of places for advice on helping your young person’s mental health healthy. Health for Teens is a great site full of tips and advice for teenagers, and will help your teen with developing coping strategies.

Don’t forget you can also contact your school nursing team using Chat Health; simply text 07520 615 386 (if you live in Leicester) or 07520 615 387 (if you live in Leicestershire or Rutland) and someone will get back to you

Sometimes its easier to talk to someone that you don’t know, for example if you are worried about a family member who may be a key worker. The ChildLine app and website have lots of advice, articles, videos, games. Health4Teens and Young Minds website have advice on managing eating disorders and what to do if you’re struggling with self-isolation and social distancing.  

Other good websites

Aim to be active for 60 minutes a day

Keeping fit and active is really important for both mental and physical health.

There are lots ways to stay active at home:

  • The Active Leicester Facebook and Twitter have some good videos and routines plus a weekly newsletter with more ideas
  • Leicester-Shire & Rutland Sport have launched a campaign called #ActiveAtHome which is full of fun ways to keep active at home and includes online workouts with Les Mills and Joe Wicks. 
  • Sport England have developed a campaign called #StayInWorkOut which is full of tips and advice 
  • The NHS fitness studio have a series of 10-minute workout videos you could try.

If you are well enough, you can go outside for one form of exercise a day – walk, run, jog or cycle. Go on your own or with members of your household. Don’t arrange to meet up with your friends.

Eat well

As a teenager, your body is going through many physical changes – changes that need to be supported by a healthy, balanced diet. Without a balanced diet, your mood can be affected, and your energy levels will be low. The NHS - healthy eating have lots of healthy eating tips, as well as advice on weight worries and iron deficiency. There are lots of healthy recipes for you to try cooking too.

There is more recipe inspiration on our diet and weight management page.

Its also important to keep hydrated, water is the best option but why not get some inspiration from the BBC Good Food website on some tasty mocktails.

Get plenty of sleep

Getting enough sleep can help improve your mood. Whilst your teen is not at school it really important to try and keep to a regular routine such as getting up and going to bed at the same time. Help and advice can be found at Every Mind Matters - Sleep. There are also a range of resources at NHS - getting to sleep to help get you back into a sleep routine.

Dealing with loss of life

Losing someone that you love is traumatic and lonely at any time but due to the current situation it can be even more difficult. The NHS - bereavement and Cruse have advice and guidance about how to deal with grief.