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Helping Prepare Your Child for a Return to School

By Support For Young PeopleNo Comments

Helping Prepare Your Child for a Return to School

Coming out of lockdown, both you and your child might be feeling uneasy and uncertain about them having to return to school after so many months of homeschooling and the many routine changes you have had to make.

Here are some tips which might help you prepare for the transition:

1.Discuss how your child is feeling about going back to school and try not to assume what they are thinking. They may feel worried or scared but also excited about returning to school. No matter how they feel, let them know that it is ok to have a mixture of feelings and that everyone is going back to school with similar feelings.

2.Give your child guidance and advice about the new routine and school day. This will help them to prepare for any changes that have been made to the times of lessons and other parts of their day, how classrooms might be laid out, seeing friends and playtimes. Establish a routine to help to gradually get them back into their usual morning and bedtime routines as they get closer to their return date.

3.Provide reassurance. Your child may find it difficult to go back to school because it will be a big change from what they have been asked to do during the pandemic. Talk with your child about ways they can stay safe at school, such as washing their hands before and after eating, and reassure them that the school are putting measures in place to keep them safe.

4.Think ahead. As well as reflecting on what has happened during the past few weeks, it is important to help children develop hope and a sense of excitement for the future. At a time like this, it can be hard to feel positive, but identifying the things that they can look forward to will help them to realise that the current situation won’t last forever and their feelings will change.

5.Seek support if you need it. Transitioning back to school after being in lockdown is no easy task. If you or your child is experiencing pressure or stress Darlington Mind provides a confidential helpline where you can get things off your chest or access support in the form of practical advice, counselling and techniques to help you cope and move forward.

For information and to access support please Email: crew@darlingtonmind.com or Tel: 07432 843161 – also see our website www.darlingtonmind.com for lots of lots of other services which may be of interest to you.

Helping Your Child Come Out of Lockdown

By Support For Young PeopleNo Comments

Helping Your Child Come Out of Lockdown

If your child has been away from school since March – maybe stuck indoors, dealing with homeschooling, frustrated at not being able to see friends and family, or enduring time with siblings who don’t get along – going back to school could be an exciting time. For others maybe not so. Fear of Covid-19, having to readjust to the school environment, and adapting to the “new normal” could lead to stress, anxiety or even depression.

Here are five things you can do to support your child during the process of coming out of lockdown:

  1. If you haven’t done so, talk through the changes to the lockdown restrictions. Ask them how they’re feeling and what they’re thinking about. Tell them it’s okay to feel scared or unsure. Try to answer their questions and reassure them in an age-appropriate way. It’s difficult to know all the answers because the situation is still changing with lots of mixed messages, but talking things through can help children feel calmer and reassured.
  2. It’s important to remind them that the rules are a good thing, designed to keep everyone safe. Help them to remain positive and hopeful that things will go back to normal soon.
  3. Engaging in positive activities with your child such as reading, playing, painting or cooking can give them a break from any worries they have. You might also use the time to casually talk through their concerns without needing a separate ‘big conversation’.
  4. We all thrive on routine and so do children. Try to maintain a routine to help them feel safe and secure. Adjusting to new circumstances takes time and it is likely to be a gradual process. Regular catch-ups will help you address any worries or feelings of being overwhelmed. Making small journeys/trips to meet individual family members or friends might be a good starting point.
  5. Seek support if you need it. Transitioning out of lockdown is not easy for anyone. If you or your child are experiencing pressure or stress, Darlington Mind provides a confidential helpline where you can get things off your chest and access support in the form of practical advice, counselling, and techniques to help you cope and move forward.

For information and to access support please email: crew@darlingtonmind.com or Tel: 07432 843161 – also see our website www.darlingtonmind.com  for details on lots of other services which may be of interest to you.

Support for Young People – Lisa’s Story

By Support For Young PeopleNo Comments

Support for Young People

In these current times of lockdown and increased social isolation, many people’s mental health has taken a down turn. In this article, we want to focus our attention on younger people.

Lisa’s Story

Lisa is a 15-year-old girl, who was like many this year going into her last school year and preparing for her GCSE’s.  Lisa suffered now and again with bouts of anxiety and depression, related especially to her appearance and what her friends thought about her. Being liked by her friends, their opinion of her and fitting in is very important to her, as are the quality of her “selfies” on her social media accounts: (Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram).  Lisa got by without any support and kept things to herself.

Lockdown & Mental Health Down Turn

At the beginning of lockdown, Lisa’s life and routine completely turned upside down, no more school, no more seeing her friends and hanging out, no more retail therapy in her favourite stores, no more going to the cinema.  The things she looked forward to had all been taken away.  She was also concerned about what this period of seemingly never-ending lockdown would do for her school work and end result of her examination results. This was a big concern for her, as she wanted to do well and go on to further education.

As a result of lockdown Lisa found herself spending even more time on screens, (smart phone, tablet games and social media); her routine had completely gone, she would stay up most of the night and sleep most of the morning.  Due to this, the following things had happened:

  • Sleep became very difficult for her (she was getting by on 4 – 5 hours)
  • Her mood became very low and pessimistic
  • She felt completely numb at times
  • Several times a week completely overwhelmed by emotion
  • Life started to feel more unreal
  • She became more frustrated with her mum and dad, arguments were a daily occurrence
  • She started to post negative comments on social media
  • She investigated self-harming

At her lowest mood, Lisa started to self-harm, she used this as way of trying to feel something and as a way of control and even distraction from her negative mood.

Help and Support

One night whilst scrolling through Facebook, Lisa felt completed lost, scaring herself with an episode of cutting a little deeper than she had done previously. She also worried about how she would hide this and explain this cut to her parents.  She thankfully reached out for help and called Darlington Mind’s Young Peoples Listening & Counselling line 07432 843161, where she received phone counselling to work through her difficult emotions.

Seeing Things Differently

This enabled her to start to think differently, instead of comparing herself to her friends and their social media profiles, and being caught up in striving for perfection.  She began to accept things as they are, seeing things from day to day, rather than overall worrying about things she had no control over.

She started to get back into a healthy sleeping routine and limited social media and screen time, especially around bedtime and in the middle of the night.  She has been learning to spend more time with her friends, (Face timing, Whatsapp and Skyping), who bring out the best in her and do not pressurise her for perfectionism in an imperfect world.

She has started to look at other hobbies whilst in lockdown and enjoys being creative, writing short poems and has begun to time manage some schoolwork into her day.

Lisa still has a way to go on her journey, but she is very pleased with the progress she has made over the course of a few weeks.

If you are going through issues similar to Lisa, please don’t suffer alone, we can be that listening ear and help you. Please see contact options below:

Young Peoples Listening & Counselling Support line

Ages 11 to 18 – here to listen and help, non-judgemental, friendly, confidential – call 07432 843161 with confidence (weekdays) or email: crew@darlingtonmind.com

Or other children’s services: childrensservice@darlingtonmind.com

Young people – Overcoming anxiety during the Covid-19 lockdown: – A Guide

Loss and Bereavement Support

By Loss and BereavementNo Comments

Loss and Bereavement Support

People often say it is never easy to talk about the tough stuff, especially when you are enduring grief around the death of a loved one.  We want you to know that we are here for you to do just that, to help you work through your thoughts, feelings, emotions and issues around dealing with grief.

Kevin’s Story

Take Kevin for example, Kevin was completely lost when he lost his wife Jane of 25 years to cancer.  He knew this was coming as Jane had been battling the illness for several years, but this made it no easier for Kevin to accept when it finally happened.  On Jane’s death, Kevin felt completely numb of any feelings, he felt he could not connect with anyone and was even unable to cry at her funeral.  Kevin felt guilty for feeling like this, for not opening up and even worried that family members and friends maybe thought that he did not really care about losing Jane.

A Complete Change of Life

Kevin’s life and routine had been completely turned upside down; he had been spending many months caring for his wife.  Not only enduring the loss of his wife and best friend, but the loss of routine had also made him feel like his whole world had imploded. After feeling like this for a period of weeks this made Kevin feel very depressed, he had no motivation to do anything, what was the point in anything anymore?

At his lowest mood, Kevin thankfully reached out for help, and called Darlington Mind’s Loss and Bereavement Service, where he received phone counselling to work through his emotions. This enabled him to start to think of a new life, of something to look forward to, and to see some hope for a new chapter of his life.

Brighter Times Ahead

Kevin will never forget the 25 years he spent with his wife Jane.  Whilst the feelings of loss have been tremendous for him, he is now starting to think back of the good times they shared. He has opened up to his family and friends, has also started to engage with some of his old hobbies, in painting, as well as learning about how to use social media and smart phone apps to enable him to better connect with family and friends.

Kevin still has a way to go on his journey through grief; he has good days and occasional bad days, although the bad days are getting less.  He is very pleased with the progress he has made over the course of a few weeks, and has thanked us for our support.

How to Get Help

We want you to know that it is ok if you do not want to talk straight away like Kevin, but when you are ready, we can be that listening ear and help you to work through painful and difficult emotions.

Helpline and counselling service call 07377 910227 (weekdays) or email supportline@darlingtonmind.com