During the current COVID-19 pandemic it is important that we take time to think about how to look after our mental health. Everyone has mental health and will face their own individual challenges during the current situation.
To assist all of our youth and adult members we have put together some key messages and online resources from a range of organisations.
When you talk to people, including young people:
- Don’t try to shield them from the facts. They will find out somehow, so be honest and direct.
- Start by asking them how they feel, what they know, what they have heard. Listen to them, don’t jump in with your own opinions. Let them know it’s OK not to feel OK. It’s normal right now.
- Answer questions in an age-appropriate manner. You don’t need all the answers but just talking will help them feel calmer.
- Give practical advice about things they can control – hand washing (make sure they know how to do it properly), staying 2 metres apart from people they don’t live with, keeping in touch by methods other than physical contact, etc.
- Share the key messages below in an age appropriate way.
- You are not a counsellor and that’s fine. If someone is showing signs of real mental health problems such as acute anxiety or depression, advise them to seek medical help, or talk to their parents about doing so.
- If talking to someone has upset you, talk about it to someone you trust. Don’t bottle it up. You need to take care of your own mental health too.
Some key messages are:
- Try your best to stay connected with others.
- Help and support each other safely. Helping others also makes us feel better about ourselves.
- It’s OK not to be OK. Talk about your worries to people you trust. This can help troubles feel less unmanageable.
- Your physical health is important too. This includes what you eat, your sleep and your activity.
- Focus on what you can change and what you can do right now. This is a global challenge that we all care about but getting consumed by the scale of it can make us worry more. Focusing on what you can do right now is one way of helping reduce these worries.
- Sometimes we get overwhelmed by the amount of news we see and how scary this is. It’s important to get the facts but ration the amount to what works for you.
- This is a new normal for us all. It will take time to adjust. When you are able, try getting into a routine. Helpful ways to use your time include doing things you enjoy, learning a new skill or catching up (virtually!) with friends you’ve not spoken to in a while.
- If you’re struggling for things to do or feeling down about your current situation consider what you did before COVID-19 and what gave you meaning. For example, Scouts, family or hobbies. Think about what you can still do with these meaningful activities. Perhaps have a video call with your troop or join in with an online Scouting event.
- Take time out. It’s OK to not do everything at once or follow what everyone else is doing on social media. Try to find time to relax. Enjoy nature as much as possible in your circumstances.
- Many of us will encounter illness or bereavement over the coming months or may already have experienced this. Take time for yourself and reach out for support from your Scouting family.
Support for Young People
Helping people with existing mental health conditions
How to talk to young people about COVID-19
Talking to young children about coronavirus – https://youngminds.org.uk/blog/talking-to-your-child-about-coronavirus/
Ideas for how to answer your children’s questions – https://www.place2be.org.uk/about-us/news-and-blogs/2020/march/coronavirus-information-for-children/
How teenagers can protect their mental health during coronavirus – https://www.unicef.org/coronavirus/how-teenagers-can-protect-their-mental-health-during-coronavirus-covid-19
Support for Adults
When the Scouts asked our young people what they thought was the most important thing for them to take action on, top of their list was ‘peer support’. They told us that young people’s mental wellbeing is going to be disproportionately affected by the current coronavirus crisis, and yet it’s not being widely talked about.
That why the Scouts launched #Threefor3. We are asking young and adult member to write (or draw) three things you’re doing to look after your mental wellbeing during this challenging time and share these ideas with three other people.
Once you’ve shared your three things, the people you’ve shared with should share their own three things with you and three others, keeping the conversation about wellbeing going. You can do this with your family, friends and by tagging people on social media (see below) using #Threefor3