The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak means that life is changing for all of us.

Feeling sad, stressed, worried or frustrated while coping with COVID-19 is normal and you are certainly not alone. We are in this together.

Young people may be feeling particularly vulnerable due to uncertainty around their education or exams and perhaps feeling a loss of social connectivity with their friends and peer support groups.

Social media is an important outlet for young people and for many it will be the source of most of their information as well as being a space where they can connect with other young people. The volume of content however can be overwhelming as well as concerns over inaccurate information being shared. This article aims to give some simple guidance on how we can stay mentally well and provides some trusted sources of information and available support.

Five Ways to Wellbeing

As well as the guidance on the benefits of eating five fruit and veg a day for our physical health, the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ can offer young people guidance on things to do each day which are good for your sense of overall mental health and wellbeing. The Ways to Wellbeing are based on research conducted by the News Economics Foundation (NEF) which was commissioned by the UK government to develop a set of evidence-based actions to improve personal wellbeing.

The five ways to wellbeing are:

  1. Connect

Social relationships are really important for promoting wellbeing and act as a buffer against mental ill health for people of all ages. Although we can only see the people we live with in person, we can still chat to friends and relatives online and over the phone- even if it’s just for 5/10 minutes. You can even get creative and play virtual boardgames and quizzes online

2. Be active

Regular physical activity is essential for both physical and mental health. The current government guidance is one form of outdoor activity a day- this can just be a walk around your local area, it doesn’t need to be intense exercise.  I know Joe Wicks has been running online PE sessions for people to do at home (9am so maybe one for the early birds)

3. Take notice

Reminding yourself to ‘take notice’ of the environment around you can help you be more aware of what is happening in the present moment. Savouring ‘the moment’ is known to directly enhance your wellbeing. You can take notice wherever you are, this can be something as small as lighting a candle and watching the flame, or having a tidy up at home and appreciating the space around you. Or if outdoors, this can include small things such as being mindful of trees, plants or wildlife that you see.

4. Keep learning

Continued learning is known to enhance self-esteem as well as encouraging social interaction. Now we have a bit more time on our hands whilst staying at home it’s a great opportunity to perhaps learn a new skill or read a new book. I know plenty of people have been completing puzzles, doing arts and crafts and even learning a new language.

5. Give

Helping others is great for wellbeing. I’ve noticed lots of community spirit during the current lockdown so now is a great time to help others if you can.  Small acts of kindness can improve your wellbeing. I’m aware of rainbows and teddy bears being placed in windows to give children a fun and safe game to play whilst walking around their neighbourhoods!

Five Ways to Wellbeing - Network of Wellbeing

These five simple ways to wellbeing can help you take care of your mental health and wellbeing during times of uncertainty. They will help you think clearly, and make sure you are able to look after yourself and those you care about.

Mental Health & Wellbeing Guidance

There are also a number of brilliant charities that are offering lots of helpful advice on how young people can stay mentally well during the coronavirus pandemic, I’ve listed some of these below:

Voices of Youth (UNICEF)

Young Minds

Mind

Mental Health Foundation

Every Mind Matters

Childline

The advice and ideas range from sharing artwork, telling stories, sharing resources, simple strategies and advice from experts. A favourite of mine is the sharing of ‘Life in Quarantine’ illustrations by Voices of Youth, particularly those below by Binderiya (@binka.png).

As well as guidance on mental health and wellbeing mentioned above, if you are also looking for the latest official guidance on staying at home and away from others you can visit GOV.UK, NHS or BBC. Stay well and stay healthy!

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