Following government guidelines on social distancing, the closure of schools, and the need for some of our teams to support other NHS services, we have had to change the way that we work and reduce some of our services.
But don’t worry, we are still able to offer you and your child advice and support on a wide range of health-related topics, including physical health, emotional health and resilience, lifestyle choices and behaviour. We will continue to offer this support via the phone or video conferencing services such as WhatsApp or Skype.
We are still here to help and there are many ways to contact us.
For young people:
Call: 0300 123 4496 to speak confidentially to a member of our school health team.
ChatHealth Text: 07520 618850 young people aged 11-19 can use our confidential and anonymous texting service to have direct access to a nurse (Monday-Friday 9am-5pm).
Web: Check out NHS health information at www.kentyouthhealth.nhs.uk
If you are aged between 10-19 you can also find lots of help for your emotional wellbeing at moodspark.org.uk/
Call: 0300 123 4496 to speak to a member of our school health team.
Complete a referral at kentcht.nhs.uk/forms/school-health-service-referral-form
Check out NHS health information at www.kentyouthhealth.nhs.uk
You can find lots of help for supporting your child to develop the resilience needed to cope with emotional difficulties at kentresiliencehub.org.uk/.
We offer emotional support, which may include offering parents six weekly sessions with a counsellor providing advice on practical, easy to use strategies to support your child.
We can offer support around your child’s:
- low mood
- behavioural issues
- emotional health and well-being
These are offered via video link or over the phone. If you wish to access this support or find out more please complete our online referral form or call 0300 123 4496.
We can offer your child six sessions with a counsellor for support with feelings of:
- low mood
- behavioural issues
- emotional health and well-being
These are offered via video link or over the phone. A parent or the young person can refer themselves for counselling. Please complete our online referral form, or if you would like to speak to a member of our team confidentially please call 0300 123 4496. We also offer a text service for young people aged 11-19 called ChatHealth service. Young people can text direct on 07520 618850 and ask for counselling (9:00am-5:00pm, Monday-Friday).
Activities that are usually offered through schools have had to be suspended until they reopen, including:
- Face-to-face health needs assessments, advice and signposting including the delivery of The Lancaster Model
- The National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP)
- Year R hearing and vision screening
- Training for school staff on the safe management of health conditions that include anaphylaxis , epilepsy and use of epi pens.
We have had to postpone the hearing and vision screening for four and five year olds. We are working with schools to ensure that your child receives this screening once they return to schools in year one. We will keep you updated in the new academic year.
Understanding Coronavirus and following guidelines
Follow the government advice on protecting yourself and others at nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.
Stay at home
You should only leave the house for very limited purposes:
- shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequently as possible.
- one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household.
- any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid or escape risk of injury or harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.
- travelling for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home.
- If you go out, stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people at all times
- Wash your hands as soon as you get home.
Do not meet others, even friends or family. Remember you can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms.
To use the free GOV.UK Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp, simply add 07860 064422 in your phone contacts and then message the word ‘hi’ in a WhatsApp message to this number. The new free to use service aims to provide official, trustworthy and timely information and advice about Coronavirus.
Do not leave your home if you or anyone in your family has coronavirus symptoms.
- a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
- a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
To protect others, do not go to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Stay at home.
Use the 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do. 111.nhs.uk/covid-19/
Only call 111 if you cannot get help online or you are worried about your baby or child.
If they seem very unwell, or are getting worse or you think that there’s something seriously wrong, trust your instincts and call 999.
You can find more advice at: www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/symptoms-and-what-to-do/
It is important that you have honest, open, age appropriate conversations with your child about the Coronavirus and its impact. It can help children feel in control if they understand what is happening and are giving a chance to talk about their emotions.
- Make sure that your child is not exposed to ‘on loop’ news coverage of the Coronavirus. As a family try and limit the amount of time you spend checking updates.
- Have honest and open conversations allowing your child to tell you how they feel.
- Focus on positive activities together with your child like singing, creating family videos, art projects, family exercise time.
- Make the most of the daily opportunity to go outside and exercise as a family.
To help you with your conversations with your child there are a number of good resources.
For younger children, you and your child can find out how the Gruffalo handles social distancing at www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/52153696.
Newsround have a lot of resources aimed to keep children informed and reassured at www.bbc.co.uk/newsround#more-stories-2
The Children’s Commissioner’s for England has produced a children’s guide to coronavirus which can be found at www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/publication/childrens-guide-to-coronavirus/
For older children Young Minds provide a number of resources for parents/carers and children to access youngminds.org.uk/blog/talking-to-your-child-about-coronavirus/
Children and young people with learning disabilities can feel a loss of control in times of uncertainty such as the coronavirus outbreak. They may need extra words of reassurance, more explanations or adapted explanations about the event, and more physical comfort from loved ones.
For useful tips for talking about feelings, see Skills for Care advice. For further guidance on coronavirus for those with learning disabilities please see the Mencap website, which includes easy-read materials.
It can be particularly hard for teenagers to stay home and stop socialising at a time when they are becoming more independent. Teenagers often feel invincible and so can also feel immune from the virus. Many parents/carers will be experiencing pushback from their teenagers when they tell them that they cannot get together with friends.
- Make sure that your child is fully informed and aware that Stay At Home is a government instruction and not a recommendation.
- Help them feel part of the solution by letting them know how much their sacrifice is appreciated to stay home, save lives and protect the NHS. Remind them that no one knows if they or their friends might be Coronavirus carriers who have no symptoms, and therefore are at a high risk of spreading the virus. Point out the dangers the virus can cause to other people if they unintentionally help spread the virus.
- Acknowledge your teenager’s feelings and how difficult staying at home and dealing with change can be at their stage of life. Offer them reassurance that this is temporary and that they can cope until it ends. Remind them that restrictions can end sooner if we all support the effort to stop the spread of the Coronavirus.
- Encourage them to stay connected with their friends whether that is through gaming, Netflix parties, video-conferencing or social media.
- Help focus them, and the whole family, on positive activities they have always wanted to do but never got round to like learning a language, practicing an instrument or getting fit.
Yong Minds has advice for young people struggling with self-isolation at youngminds.org.uk/find-help/looking-after-yourself/coronavirus-and-mental-health/#i-am-struggling-with-self-isolation-and-social-distancing.
There are also opportunities for your teenager to stay connected by joining in with virtual youth activities across Kent. Visit KCC’s Online Youth Services Offer page
Children’s emotions and Coronavirus
Recognise that if a child becomes anxious, angry or their behaviour changes, this is normal given the current circumstances. It can be a particularly difficult time for children and young people who already have a tendency towards anxiety. Remember that there is help there for you if you need it.
Young Minds youngminds.org.uk/find-help/for-parents/supporting-your-child-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic/ recommends the following five steps to support your child.
- Talk to them about what’s going on. Find out how they’re feeling and what they’re thinking about, let them know it’s okay to feel scared or unsure, and try to answer their questions and reassure them in an age appropriate manner. Remember, you do not need to know all the answers, but talking things through can help them feel calmer.
- Help them to reflect on how they’re feeling and encourage them to think about the things they can do to make them feel safer and less worried.
- Reassure them that this will pass, you’re there for them, and you will get through this together.
- Spend time doing a positive activity with your child (such as reading, playing, painting or cooking) to help reassure them and reduce their anxiety. This is also a great way of providing a space for them to talk through their concerns, without having a ‘big chat’.
- Keep as many regular routines as possible, so that your child feels safe and that things are stable.
My COVID time capsule is a wonderful resource to use to support primary school children and preteens to understand how they are feeling and to help them focus on positive activities.
You can also find lots of resources to help you support your child to build resilience to cope with their emotions at kentresiliencehub.org.uk.
If you are still struggling Call: 0300 123 4496 to speak confidentially to a member of our school health team or complete an online referral form.
These are difficult times with a lot of uncertainty. Many young people feel this way, but for some, particularly those who already struggled with anxiety it may be particularly difficult.
Encourage them to look at:
- Young Minds, advice and support aimed at young people to help them with anxiety particularly around the Coronavirus.
- ChildLine have also provided advise on coping with coronavirus at childline.org.uk/info-advice/your-feelings/anxiety-stress-panic/worries-about-the-world/coronavirus/
They can also contact our school health team by:
Call: 0300 123 4496 to speak confidentially to a member of our school health team or
Text (ChatHealth): 07520 618850 if they are aged 11-19 years olds can use our confidential texting service with direct access to a nurse (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm).
The Kent School Health team can also provide counselling via phone or video link.
To access this support you can complete an online referral form or call 0300 123 4496 to speak confidentially to a member of our team (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday)
Some preteens and teenagers respond to worrying situations by acting out. This could include reckless driving, and alcohol or drug use. Others may become afraid to leave the home. They may cut back on how much time they connect with their friends. They can feel overwhelmed by their intense emotions and feel unable to talk about them. Their emotions may lead to increased arguing and even fighting with siblings, parents, caregivers or other adults. They may have concerns about how the school closures and exam cancellations will affect them.
Try and follow the following steps:
- Listen and acknowledge
- Provide clear information about the situation
- Be aware of your own reactions
- Connect regularly
- Create a new routine
- Limit exposure to media and talk about what they have seen and heard
You can also find advice on how to communicate more effectively with teenagers at familylives.org.uk/advice/teenagers/communicating-with-teenagers/the-importance-of-communicating-with-teenagers/.
You can find more information to support you and your child at www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-supporting-children-and-young-peoples-mental-health-and-wellbeing/guidance-for-parents-and-carers-on-supporting-children-and-young-peoples-mental-health-and-wellbeing-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak#helping-children-and-young-people-cope-with-stress.
If you are still having difficulties then Call: 0300 123 4496 to speak confidentially to a member of our school health team.
You may have already been worried about your child or their behavior may have changed since the Coronavirus, (Covid-19) outbreak. Some preteens and teenagers respond to worrying situations by acting out. This could include reckless driving, and alcohol or drug use. There is help available for you and your child.
Talk to Frank: have provided some guidance on Coronavirus: drinking and taking drugs during the outbreak and can provide advice by phone, text or webchat.
We are with you: Can also help you or your child, find more information at wearewithyou.org.uk.
If you need to speak to one call our team Call: 0300 123 4496
Additional needs and Coronavirus
This can be a very overwhelming time for any child, but particularly those who are autistic. There are no easy solutions but the National Autistic Society has put together some ideas and resources for autistic children and their families at autism.org.uk/services/helplines/coronavirus/resources/helpful-resources.
If you are still struggling Call: 0300 123 4496 to speak confidentially to a member of our school health team.
If your child has ADHD then the current situation is probably very difficult for them and the whole family. Additude have some ideas to support you and your child.
If you are still having difficulties then Call: 0300 123 4496 to speak confidentially to a member of our school health team.
The coronavirus, (COVID-19) pandemic is a difficult time for a lot of people, but for those with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) it may be particularly challenging.
You can check out the tips Young Minds have created for coping with OCD during the pandemic. at youngminds.org.uk/blog/tips-for-coping-with-ocd-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic/).
The International OCD Foundation has also provided the following advice at iocdf.org/covid19/talking-to-kids-about-covid-19/.
If you need more help then Call: 0300 123 4496 to speak confidentially to a member of our school health team.
Whole family wellbeing
Try and create a new routine. This can help to give everyone in the family a sense of purpose and decrease the feeling of uncertainty. Make a plan for the day or week that includes the following:
- Learning Think about time for education: Your child’s school will probably have made arrangements for continued learning at home. You can also find extra resources and help with lessons including fun activities at BBC bitesize. Don’t be hard on yourself, it is hard to juggle education with children alongside your own work demands. Encourage the whole family to think of some new skills they want to master like learning a new language check out www.duolingo.com or languagedrops.com, practicing music or completing an art project.
- Relax let your child have time to just be themselves and relax. Remember school is not all study. You can find lots of ideas at annafreud.org/on-my-mind/self-care/. It is also important that you and your children stay connected with friends virtually or by phone.
- Exercise Children and young people need to be active for 60 minutes a day, which can be more difficult when spending longer periods of time indoors. If you can safely exercise outside the house once a day, why not head out as a family for a walk or cycle ride. See Change4Life for some ideas for indoor games and activities. You and your children can join the nations PE class with Joe Wickes or you could learn to dance with Oti Mabuse.
- Healthy food It may be tempting to give your child treats, such as sweets or chocolate, to compensate for being housebound, but this is not good for their health, especially as they will not be able to be to run around or be as active as they normally are. Visit the One You website for healthy recipes and treats. You could use the time you have at home to cook together as a family and become healthier. Get some top tips on our Get food smart page.
- Sleep Don’t forget that sleep is really important for mental and physical health so try to keep to existing bedtime routines. Every Mind Matters nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/sleep/ has lots of ideas to help you.
As a parent/carer it is also really important that you look after your own wellbeing.
These are difficult times for everyone but can be particularly difficult for parents/carers who have to care for their families, while also struggling with their own worries. You may feel low, worried, anxious, or be concerned about your health or that of those close to you. It’s important that you take care of your mind as well as your body and get further support if you need it.
Public Health England has provided tips and advice around the following strategies to keep mentally well during this difficult time:
- Help and support others around you.
- Talk about your worries to your friends or family, or speak to one of the NHS helplines.
- Get enough sleep.
- Manage your media and information intake.
- Get the facts from official sources.
- Think about a new daily routine and set goals.
- Keep your mind active and do activities you enjoy.
- Make sure that you relax.
For more advice visit the Public Health England website
You can also find advice on how to look after yourself at Kent county Council at kent.gov.uk/social-care-and-health/health/coronavirus/looking-after-your-mental-health.
If you are struggling because of your child’s behaviour issues that you could contact the Young Minds Parents Helpline on 0808 802 5544.
Domestic abuse includes physical, emotional and sexual abuse in couple relationships or between family members. Domestic violence can happen to anyone. You can still get help even during isolation, so If you feel uncomfortable, pressurised, threatened or have been attacked don't wait, ask for help now.
This is a useful webpage at domesticabuseservices.org.uk/victims/where-can-i-get-help/
Women can call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline (0808 2000 247), and men the Mens' Advice Line (0808 8010327) for free at any time, day or night.
They will offer confidential, non-judgemental information and support.
You can also speak to Kent Police on the non-emergency telephone number 101, but if you are at immediate risk then please call 999.
You can find more information about local support for domestic abuse at domesticabuseservices.org.uk.
Visit the One You website for advice on reducing your drinking and to download the drink free days app nhs.uk/oneyou/for-your-body/drink-less/.
You can also find advice and support on quitting smoking from One You at kent.gov.uk/social-care-and-health/health/one-you-kent/quit-smoking.
Kent County Council has more information about local drug and alcohol services at kent.gov.uk/social-care-and-health/health/drug-misuse/alcohol-and-drug-supportsupport.
There’s also lots of help on our Looking after your health and wellbeing page.
In response to COVID-19, the way the health visiting service provides support has changed but they are still here for you. You can contact your local health visiting team via their duty line. Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm if you have any questions, or are worried about yourself or your child’s health and wellbeing.
Our Health Visiting Service has put together some useful information for parents. Please see our Kent Baby frequently asked questions.