Looking after your mental wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic

The vast majority of the planet is likely feeling stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed right now. Many will be feeling low in mood and frustrated, many grieving all they will be missing out on. Whatever you are feeling right now, it’s completely okay!
There are, however, some things that you can do to prevent these feelings from taking over.  Take a look at the information below, for some helpful tips on coping during the pandemic. We’ve also included an update on our services, to keep you all informed.
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Updates on current support provisions for service-users

If you are already open to CCAMHS

If you are currently a patient open to CCAMHS, you will still be able to access the service for support. However, the way to do this has, temporarily, changed. As you are probably already aware, the clinic is closed to service users; we are not doing any face-to-face appointments; at the clinic, at homes or out in the community. If a situation is deemed urgent and requiring face-to-face contact, this will be dealt with by the team on a case-by-case basis. Therefore, the vast majority of our work will for now be completed via telephone or video calls.

If you have an allocated clinician, they should be in touch with you soon to arrange on-going telephone or video call appointments with you. Your allocated clinician will support you with accessing our video call programme, which is a specialist programme for the NHS and service-users, and so secure and safe to use. If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

If you have not heard from your allocated clinician yet and need to speak to someone, please call the CCAMHS clinic on 01983 523602. We will still be answering calls to this number, and if your allocated clinician is not available, another clinician will be able to offer guidance.

If you do not have an allocated clinician, and are for example on a waiting list, you are able to telephone the clinic for support as well. There will be a qualified clinician allocated each day to taking phone calls from people with urgent enquiries or concerns.

If you are not open to CCAMHS, but wish to be referred

We have had to make some temporary changes to our referrals process, and the support we can offer during the Covid-19 pandemic. The service we can provide currently is limited, we hope to be able to resume normal service as soon as we can!

If you have been open to CCAMHS, and discharged within the past 3 months, you are able to seek support directly (as usual). You can telephone the clinic on 01983 523602 for advice. What we can currently offer those recently discharged will be determined on a case-by-case basis; we cannot guarantee that service-users recently discharged will be offered ongoing support, for the time being.

Those who have not been open to CCAMHS before, or have been discharged more than 3 months ago, will need to be referred by a professional (for example a GP, staff member from school, pediatrician, or health visitor).

Right now, only those considered at risk of harm to self or others will be offered direct CCAMHS involvement. Any referrals that are received are being screened by qualified clinicians regularly. We are accepting referrals for high risk individuals, but we ask that, while our service is temporarily reduced due to Covid-19 government guidance, no referrals for routine or non-urgent patients are sent to us. If we receive any referrals which are not urgent, we will offer sign-posting to other services or self-help resources, but will not be accepting the referral at the current time. If you are unsure of whether a case is urgent, please telephone the clinic on 01983 523602 to discuss with a clinician before sending a referral.

This plan for business continuity will be subject to regular checks and updates and may be altered at short notice if the situation or guidance changes. We will endeavour to update our service-users of any changes as soon as possible.

We apologise for the problems and inconvenience this current alteration to services may cause, but these are currently necessary precautions to ensure the safety of our staff and service-users. We appreciate your patience during this difficult period.

CONTACT DETAILS:

CCAMHS clinic telephone number (open 9-5 Monday to Friday): 01983 523602

Out of hours (for urgent support outside of the CCAMHS clinic opening times): 01983 522214

CCAMHS clinic email: iownt.spcamhs@nhs.net (for non-urgent enquiries)

Top 10 tips for surviving quarantine

Be kind to yourself!

It’s normal for unhelpful thoughts and behaviours to creep back in when you’re faced with stressful experiences. You will face highs and lows with your mental health throughout your life, right now this is probably a low. But you’ll get through this, like you have when faced with lows in the past.

Try to be kind to yourself and make time for relaxation and self-care, however you go about doing this; have a bath, meditate, sing loudly in the shower, watch some funny cat videos… Whatever you find helpful! Now more than ever, self-care and self-compassion are so important.

Stick to your normal routine as best you can

Try to eat, sleep, work and relax at similar times of the day. Perhaps draw out a schedule, to help you to remember. Keep as much normality and routine as you can! Also, make sure to keep showering and change your clothes regularly, as you would normally. Spending all day in PJs may be quite tempting, but this can have a negative impact on your mood and motivation.

Don’t feel guilty if you’re not being productive

You do not have to invent time travel or discover the cure for the coronavirus just because you have the time. Look after yourself; you’ll probably be feeling enough stress anyway, without adding guilt to the mix! So don’t panic if you’re not getting as much schoolwork done as you’d wanted, or haven’t learnt to bake or speak fluent Chinese. Do what you can and try not to push yourself further. Pushing and getting angry at yourself will only make you more stressed! If getting things done and ticking off items on your to do list will help you to feel happier and calmer, that’s fine! But relaxing is okay too. Do what is best for you.

Limit your exposure to the news

While staying updated and informed on what’s going on is helpful, too much will just add to your stress! Try your best to avoid too much news exposure, and stick to factual and accurate sites.

You can do this by avoiding spending too much time reading or watching the news, cleaning up your social media feeds, so you are not following any pages which post unhelpful or exaggerated comments and articles, or post too often. Set some times during the day where any news and talk of the coronavirus is banned, to give you a break!

Find the positives!

Right now, there are a whole lot of negatives to think about. It can be quite hard to find any positives, but they are there!

First; this is temporary! It won’t be like this forever, and every night ends a day you have survived this bizarre situation, and every morning brings us one day closer to things going back to normal.

Second, look for the good news stories: there are some incredible stories out there of people banding together to support each other! Like the Italians singing to each other from their balconies, the thousands of people volunteering to help the NHS, and the improvements that the reduction in travel has already triggered for the planet (cleaner waters and dramatically reduced pollution levels, for example). It’s not all doom and gloom!

Third, focus on what you have to be grateful for; you have a roof over your head, amazing technology that will let you stay connected and informed, and plenty of things to keep you busy indoors.

What else are you grateful for? Try finding 3 things to be grateful for a day; every small thing adds up to counter the big negatives right now! Like, for example, “my nan finally learned how to use FaceTime, so I can see her and speak to her!” or “I am so grateful for my Xbox!”.

Give yourself permission to focus on YOU

During times like this, lots of people will be feeling frustrated that they can’t help. Feeling stuck, worried about other people but powerless to help is a horrible feeling! While we can do some things to help, a lot of the current problems in the world are just out of our control. Worrying about them isn’t going to change things. It’s not easy, but focus on the things you can control, and try to let the other stuff go.

There are things you can do to help others, if you want to. Helping others can give your own mental wellbeing a real boost, but you cannot save the world! Do what you are able to and want to, and nothing more; pushing yourself to do more for others at the expense of your own wellbeing is not necessary or advised.

Talk it out!

Expressing your thoughts and feelings is an excellent way of coping in times of high stress. Talk to a friend or a relative (or a pet!) about how you’re feeling and what’s going on in your head. If talking is tricky, try writing or drawing them out instead. Whatever way you want do this in (e.g. poetry, diary entries, video logs), expressing those emotions in a safe place can be helpful.

Keep active

You are allowed to go outside once a day for exercise; try to use this, if you can. If it is safe for you to do so, go out for a walk or a bike ride, or whatever it is you enjoy doing for exercise! If you have a garden, make the most of it and try to get outside as much as you can. If you do not have a garden, you can still stay active indoors. There are a lot of videos online with exercise activities for all ages.

Stay connected

Even though you can’t go out and see people, you can still stay in contact! There are plenty of online platforms for you to use to stay in touch with friends and family. You could even go Jane Austen and write people letters!

Keep safe and calm at home

If things are getting tense or heated at home, as might happen (when you’re all stuck with each other 24/7!), do your best to just walk away, and take a break. Go and sit in your bedroom or the garden, and cool off before trying to solve the problem. Try also to schedule regular down time, where you spend some time away from people you live with. And try to cut them a bit of slack; they’re probably just as stressed as you are!

If you don’t feel safe at home right now, or are worried about things going on at home, please do telephone CCAMHS (01983 523602, or out of hours 01983 522214), or Childline (0800 11 11). If you’re worried about being overheard, there are text services too (for example, you can text SHOUT to 85258). You don’t need to suffer in silence!

Top tips for parents

Look after your own wellbeing; both physical and mental

When you’re constantly focused on looking after your child(ren); keeping them entertained, safe and well, it can be quite easy to forget about yourself. But you are a human being, too; you are probably feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and frustrated yourself. So make sure you do what you can to look after you. If you have other people around to help you with chores and childcare, use them! If you don’t, it’s okay to take time away from your kids, you are allowed to let the TV or their electronics entertain them sometimes, so you can have a break! You can’t pour from an empty cup; if you’re over-stressed and anxious, it will be very difficult to take care of your children and keep them calm!

Give your child(ren) the facts

It may be helpful to ensure your child understands what is going on, as much as is possible, to reduce uncertainty and confusion. So try to talk to your children about what is going on. To do this, choose a suitable time (where everyone is calm, and there aren’t any time restraints), and open up a discussion about Covid-19. Find out what they already know, answer any of their questions, and fill in the blanks. They don’t need to know every last detail but give them enough to ensure they understand. If you don’t know something, or can’t answer a question, be honest about this; don’t make promises you will then have to

later go back on. We have several resources you can use to explain what’s going on to children, see below for details.

Don’t stress yourself and your child(ren) out with home education

If your child isn’t coping well with the quarantine, trying to push them to focus on their education is unlikely to work. People are unable to take in information when they are stressed or overwhelmed, and trying to force it can end in big battles. If they fall behind in their education, they will be in the same boat as a lot of other children, and teachers will be prepared to help them to catch up upon their return to school. So instead of battling over maths work all day, maybe use this opportunity to spend positive time together, enjoying each other’s company, teaching them life skills like cooking or gardening, and relaxing! We’re not saying to give up on home education altogether, just to recognise that very few people will be able focus and work at their normal level in the middle of a pandemic, and that’s okay! So cut you and your child some slack.

Establish a routine and rota at home

If you’re cooped up at home with a lot of people, all wanting to use the TV, make food, and keep themselves entertained, it is likely there will be quite a few more arguments than normal! It may be worth setting up a rota to help with this. Have a clear schedule for each of your children, and a rota for choosing activities, doing chores, and using electronics. This rota will look different for different families; make sure it suits you all! Make this visual, and ensure everyone agrees to it, to avoid fights.

Allow your child(ren) chance to open up about their worries

If your child is feeling particularly anxious about what’s going on, then it might be helpful to schedule set 1 on 1 times with them, to allow them to talk openly about how they’re feeling. Choose a specific time of the day, where things are calm and you will have the chance to talk to them without others around, and keep the time consistent. Allow them to talk without judgement or trying to challenge their worries; just offer your empathy and support. Where possible, try to keep your children’s worries to this time; if they want to talk about worries outside of this time, encourage them to write it down so they can talk about in the next worry time slot.

Websites and resources

There is so much online support right now, we have put together some of the sites we think will be helpful, for young people and adults.

@IOWccamhs on Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/IOWccamhs/

We share lots of resources, ideas and run events for young people and families.

Young Minds - https://youngminds.org.uk/

Young minds website has a lot of helpful mental health advice for young people, and they have several pages and blog posts specifically for looking after your mental health with regards to Covid-19. They have some very useful tips and advice, from professionals and people who have experienced their own struggles with mental health.

The Mix - https://www.themix.org.uk/

The Mix have a lot of helpful articles on mental health, and also an online forum that you can utilise to seek support.

Mind - https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing/

Mind also have a lot of helpful information, more specifically for adults.

BBC - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-51873799

BBC have also released some tips and resources for looking after your mental health during the quarantine.

NHS Every Mind Matters - https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/coronavirus-covid-19-staying-at-home-tips/

The NHS every mind matters have provided some helpful tips for looking after your mental health specifically in relation to Covid-19, which is worth a look.

Jack Cornfield - https://jackkornfield.com/steady-heart/

This website offers audio guides to keeping calm during the Covid-19 outbreak.

YouTube – There are some really helpful videos on YouTube about staying mentally well during the covid-19 pandemic. These two in particular we enjoyed:

For young people: ‘Dr Ranj’s Coronavirus advice for kids’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMHacLHchI0

For teenagers and adults: ‘FACE COVID – How To Respond Effectively To The Corona Crisis’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmvNCdpHUYM

For advice around managing symptoms of specific diagnoses in relation to Covid-19:

For Anxiety:

Have a look at Anxiety UK’s website for resources, videos and tips for managing “Corona anxiety”. https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/coronanxiety-support-resources/

And for parents, they have a helpful guide on how to talk to kids who are worried about Covid-19: https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/blog/how-to-talk-to-children-about-covid-19/

For people on the Autistm Spectrum:

Try The National Autistic Society website, they have plenty of advice and resources for Autistic people and their families: https://www.autism.org.uk/services/nas-schools/vanguard/news/2020/march/coronavirus-(covid-19)-advice.aspx

For Bipolar Disorder:

Visit BipolarUK for advice and tips. https://www.bipolaruk.org/blog/coronavirus-emergency-how-we-can-support-you

For Eating Disorders:

See the BEAT website for many tips and strategies, as well as an online support group forum for people to access, between the hours of 6pm and 7pm daily. https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/coronavirus

For Low Mood:

Beyond Blue have some helpful guidance for looking after your mental health during the quarantine: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/looking-after-your-mental-health-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak

For OCD:

OCD UK is a website for people with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD); they have helpful guidance for those with OCD struggling with their symptoms and anxieties as a result of the pandemic. https://www.ocduk.org/ocd-coronavirus-summary/

And OCD action are also a helpful website to access: https://www.ocdaction.org.uk/articles/covid-19

Mobile phone Apps

There are a lot of helpful apps out there too. All of the following are free to download (Although some have in-app purchases) and are available on apple or android phones.

Managing self-harm:

‘Blueice’ is an app for young people, it aims to help young people to manage their emotions and reduce urges to self-harm.

‘Calm Harm’ is an app designed to support people to manage self-harm, providing lots of activities and strategies to use to help manage emotions without use of self-harm.

Managing anxiety or low mood:

‘Think Ninja’ provides advice and strategies for managing anxiety and low mood. It is designed for young people on the Isle of Wight.

‘SAM’ is a self-help app for those with anxiety (stands for Self-help Anxiety Management).

‘Catch it’ helps people to recognise and challenge their negative thoughts and look at problems differently.

‘MeeTwo’ is an app for teenagers to safely talk about how they’re feeling with others.

Safe internet use:

‘Own it’ is an app released by the BBC, to help young people to access the internet safely. Once installed, you can choose to install the keyboard feature, which will monitor what the user types, and will provide helpful tips and guidance if they type inappropriate, aggressive or concerning messages.

Mindfulness:

‘Headspace’ is a mindfulness app, with plenty of free mindfulness videos to utilise, both short and long.

‘Chill Panda’ offers breathing exercises to help you to manage anxiety and stress.

‘Calm’ is a meditation app for beginners and has a variety of guided meditation videos.

Books

Something Bad Happened: A Kid's Guide to Coping With Events in the News by Dawn Huebner PhD (Dawn Huebner has a whole series of really great books for children, to help them with a variety of things like worry, anger, OCD, and sleep issues. These are all worth exploring too!)

A message from Corona by Charity Tedder Free ebook download (available on this gofundme page- you don’t have to donate to access the book): https://www.gofundme.com/f/a-message-from-corona It’s a short story explaining Covid-19, aimed at younger kids.

Mindfulness for Anxious Kids: A Workbook to Help Children Cope with Anxiety, Stress, and Worry by Catherine Cook-Cottone & Rebecca Vujnovic.

Ideas to keep yourself (or your children) busy

Free live streams:

PE with Joe Wicks: daily 30 minute workout video. Youtube channel: TheBodyCoachTV

Interactive Literacy programme Interviews with writers and poets, online learning, and a platform for sharing the work of young writers. Website: radioblogging.net

Dance class with Oti Mabuse (dancer from Strictly Come Dancing). Youtube channel: OtiMabuseOfficial

Storytime with James Mayhew (children’s author) He is offering daily storytime videos on Youtube, see his twitter page (twitter.com/mrjamesmayhew) for details.

Drawing with Steve Harpster Live drawing event daily for families. See his facebook page for details and the videos: Facebook.com/harptoons

David Walliams’s ‘Elevenses’ Live recordings of David Walliams books on his website, read by the man himself! Free to access, live everyday at 11am. https://www.worldofdavidwalliams.com/

Pipers Passport Daily live story times https://www.facebook.com/piperspassport

Websites with activity ideas:

For little ones: https://mommypoppins.com/family/coronavirus-pandemic-update-indoor-activities-resources-kids

Indoor activity ideas for all ages: https://www.scouts.org.uk/the-great-indoors/

Science activities for young people: https://www.livescience.com/coronavirus-kids-activities.html

Race at your pace: Challenges for children to keep them active. https://www.raceatyourpace.co.uk/kids/#kidwalk

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