Supporting children back to school
As schools, colleges and other learning organisations prepare for the return of students we can anticipate an increase in people (including children and young people) experiencing mental and emotional distress. We know from other events of this nature that some issues will emerge immediately, but others will appear, later, with the return to some kind of normality. Such distress is to be expected as an ordinary response to extraordinary events and it is important individuals can feel free to seek help without stigma or feeling embarrassed. Some signs of distress may manifest later in the year so HLP will be regularly updating their information to align with the school calendar and to respond to emerging feedback, themes, or issues as we move into new stages of the response to COVID-19.
Many issues may be possible to be dealt with through signposting to general sources of advice on mental health and wellbeing. Thrive LDN and Good Thinking provide a central role as pan London resources which can signpost people seeking help to a range of online and voluntary sector support as well as clinical resources. For mental health support and advice relating to children and young people, parents and carers, education and support staff, a range of helpful resources and advice can be accessed freely on the Schools Mental Health Toolkit.
Anybody can be affected by poor mental health in these challenging times including both those who have previously accessed mental health services and those experiencing problems for the first time. It is likely that different groups will be affected in different ways. The evidence already suggests there may be particular issues for:
- young people (especially those in vulnerable circumstances)
- people from BAME communities
- health and care staff and other keyworkers
- people affected by bereavement
- people with pre-existing mental health diagnoses
Other groups may emerge at a later stage and it will be important to tailor and develop messages and responses accordingly.
Please use and share the Healthy London Partnership resources and toolkits to help you to provide support to children, young people and their families at this difficult time.
Please also promote and share this beautiful animation with children and young people who may be feeling anxious across your networks. Together we can support our children and young people and make sure they get through this with the support they need.
Children and young people from Tower Hamlets recently put their questions on going back to school to Katie Cole, the council’s Associate Director of Public Health for Children and Families. Please share the video where these questions are answered widely.
September sees the wider re-opening of schools for all pupils, with safety measures now in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Watch this video produced in Barking and Dagenham, which brings together what parents need to know.
Watch this video: Back to school - We've got this! It sets out five easy to remember steps to help keep everyone safe on the return to school. Produced by young people working with the public health team in Newham.
Read the statement from the Chief Medical Officers and Deputy Chief Medical Officers of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales on the evidence of risks and benefits to health from schools and childcare settings reopening. It takes into account UK and international studies, and summaries of the scientific literature from SAGE, the DELVE Group of the Royal Society, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, and data from the Office for National Statistics. The current global pandemic means that there are no risk-free options, but it is important that parents and teachers understand the balance of risks to achieve the best course of action for their children.