In response to COVID-19, the way we provide our service has changed but don’t worry; we are still here if you need us. We are still able to offer you and your child advice and support on a wide range of health-related topics, including emotional health and resilience, lifestyle choices and behaviour. We will continue to offer this support via the phone or video call. There are many ways to contact us if you would like some support.
Our school health service has also put together some useful information for parents in our frequently asked questions section below.
- School Health Service
- COVID-19 advice
- Emotional health and wellbeing
- Returning to school
- Understanding your child - online parenting courses
- Whole family wellbeing
- Domestic abuse
- Immunisation and vaccines
We continue to offer advice and support on a wide range of health-related topics, including physical health, emotional health and resilience, lifestyle choices and behaviour via phone or video conferencing services.
We are still here to help and there are many ways to contact us.
For young people:
Call: 0800 0113 474 to speak confidentially to a member of our our single point of access 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: 0800 0113 474 to speak to a member of our our single point of access 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/.
Turn2Us has a complete guide on financial support during COVID and it will be updated regularly. There is also an updated Benefits Calculator to reflect the latest DWP policy. Kent County Council can provide short-term assistance to households facing financial hardship as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Please find a range of resources to support you and your family in the current COVID-19 pandemic.
One of the best ways we can protect ourselves and each other is to remember; hands, face, space. That means washing our hands regularly, wearing a face covering in enclosed public places and keeping our distance from people who aren’t in our household. These actions will help prevent coronavirus from spreading, protecting the people around us. We also need to reduce our circle of contacts so there are fewer opportunities for the virus to spread through our communities.
You need to self-isolate if:
- you have any COVID-19 symptoms (the symptoms are a new continuous cough, ahigh temperature or a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell)
- you or someone in your household are waiting for a test result
- you or someone in your household tests positive for COVID-19
- you’re notified by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID-19 app that you could be at risk of having coronavirus because you’ve been in close contact with someone who has the virus.
The government has published staying safe outside your home for guidance on what the new rules will mean.
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)
- loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal. Most people with coronavirus have at least one of these symptoms.
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 nhs.uk.
For younger children, you and your child can find out how the Gruffalo handles social distancing here.
Newsround has resources to keep children informed and reassured.
The Children’s Commissioner’s for England has produced a children’s guide to coronavirus. Young Minds provide a number of resources for parents/carers and children to access.
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 socially distance 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 larger groups of friends or hug loved ones.
- Make sure that your child is fully informed about why it is still important to abide by the rules, even though some restrictions have been relaxed. Remind them that these instructions are for their safety, as well as for yours and the people around them.
- Help them feel part of the solution by letting them know how much their sacrifice is appreciated. 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.
Young Minds has some great tips, advice and guidance on where young people can get support for their mental health during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
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
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: 0800 0113 474 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: 0800 0113 474 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: 0800 0113 474 to speak confidentially to a member of our school health team.
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 has some great tips, advice and information where to get support for your child's mental health during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as we transition out of lockdown and go back to school.
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: 0800 0113 474 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 has some great tips, advice and information where to get support for your child's mental health during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as we transition out of lockdown and go back to school.
- 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: 0800 0113 474 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 0800 0113 474 to speak confidentially to a member of our team (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday).
Kent County Council has also put together a range of resources to support you and your family’s mental health.
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 from Family Lives.
Kent County Council has put together some useful information about supporting the mental health and wellbeing of your family during coronavirus
If you are still having difficulties then Call: 0300 123 4496 to speak confidentially to a member of our school health team.
From time to time we all struggle with our emotional health and wellbeing. For some children and young people it can be difficult to manage and understand their feelings. Young people might experience a wide variety of difficulties including low mood, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, difficulty concentrating or might be avoiding school.
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. These are offered via video link or over the phone.
From time to time we all struggle with our emotional health and wellbeing. For some young people it can be difficult to manage and understand their feelings. Young people might experience a wide variety of difficulties including low mood, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, difficulty concentrating or might be avoiding school.
We can offer up to six counselling sessions for young people aged 11-19. These sessions can help a young person gain understanding and develop strategies to help them feel better. These are offered via video link or over the phone. A parent or the young person can refer themselves for counselling.
To access this support or find out more please see our emotional health and wellbeing page, complete our online referral form or call 0800 0113 474. We also offer a text service for young people aged 11-19 called ChatHealth. Young people can text direct on 07520 618850 and ask for counselling (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday).
We are really sorry to hear this. Your child, and maybe the whole family, is likely to be experiencing grief. There is no right or wrong way to experience grief but common symptoms are:
- shock and numbness – this is usually the first reaction to loss, and people often talk about "being in a daze"
- overwhelming sadness
- tiredness or exhaustion
- anger, feeling irritable or short tempered
Encourage your child to talk to someone about their feelings. This could be a friend, family member, health professional or counsellor.
If they have lost someone due to the coronavirus then our Children and Young people’s Counselling Service can help. Our bereavement counsellors can offer 12 sessions of counselling via phone or video-link. To access this support you can complete an online referral form or call 0800 0113 474 to speak confidentially to a member of our team (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday)
If you wish to access more information about supporting a grieving child then have a look at the resources at Child Bereavement UK.
If you need help for adults in the family than contact Cruse Bereavement Care
Sexual Health clinics are still available. To access please call 0300 790 0245 (east Kent) or 01622 225713 (west Kent) or see kent.gov.uk for more information.
You may have already been worried about your child or their behaviour 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. Alternatively you can call 0800 0113 474 to speak to a member of our single point of access team.
All children in England are expected to return to school in September when the new school year starts. There are guidelines in place to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus and the classroom may feel different to before lockdown.
There may be things your child is excited about or looking forward to, as well as things they are worried or anxious about. Young Minds has some great tips on how you can support your child to transition back to school life. You can also find more information at GOV.uk.
Contact has a guide for parents of children with additional needs returning to school.
The Kent Resilience Hub is aimed at parents of children aged between ten and sixteen. It has a range of helpful articles, tools and resources to help you support your child as they return to school.
To help your child understand what catching the bus will look like, please sit down with them and watch this short video from Kent County Council that explains the changes.
You may find that your child is anxious, or struggles to get back into school or even refuses to go. Young Minds have created a guide to helping your child with school anxiety. Reach out to your child’s school as soon as you can so that you can make them aware of the challenges and work together to support your child. Call the Single Point of Access number on 0800 0113 474 between 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday – we will listen and talk through the support available to you and your child.
A good nights sleep can help us have more energy, feel more positive, and feel less stressed. The Sleep Council has some great advice for children and teenagers around sleep, if falling and staying asleep, are issues for your child.
This talk is delivered by Dr Rachel Hussey, a Consultant Clinical Psychologist covers creating the right environment for sleep, the biology of sleep and coping with night waking.
Let your child know that nerves or feeling apprehensive about the start of school are normal. Everyone can have a hard time getting back into the routine of the school year. The knowledge that they are not alone in this experience will help your child feel they are being heard and understood.
Describe in simple steps what your school morning routine will look like. You could make a visual guide for younger children. Giving specific praise when your child completes each step lets them know you are happy with their progress. This will increase your child’s chances of success in the future, and help build their self-esteem.
Reconnecting with friends
It is completely normal for children and young people, to feel anxious about seeing friends after not seeing them. Young Minds has some great information with young people sharing their experiences and top tips for coping with social anxiety.
In this talk Dr Rachel Hussey, Consultant Clinical Psychologist discusses strategies to regulate emotions and friendships, create social stories and comic strip conversations.
One of the best ways to keep children safe from COVID-19 and other diseases is to simply encourage regular handwashing. It doesn't need to be a scary conversation. Sing along with their favourite song or do a dance together to make learning fun. Make sure to teach them about how even though germs are invisible, they could still be there. When children understand why they need to wash their hands, they’re likely to continue doing so.
You can also show children how to cover a cough or a sneeze with their elbow, and ask them to tell you if they start to feel like they have a fever, cough or are having difficulty breathing.
Their emotions will change regularly and you need to show them that’s okay. Help your child to express and communicate any negative feelings they may be experiencing in a safe and supportive environment, maybe while playing with their toys, drawing together or doing an activity with older children like baking. This helps children find positive ways to express difficult feelings such as anger, fear or sadness.
As children often take their emotional cues from the key adults in their lives – it is important that adults manage their own emotions well and remain calm, listen to children’s concerns, speak kindly and reassure them.
Starting school is an exciting time for children and their parents. It can be a daunting time too. But with a little preparation and encouragement, most children will settle in easily at school, ready to learn and have fun in this new chapter of their lives. You can find out more information and support from our health visiting team.
Understanding your child – FREE online courses for anyone caring for a child in Kent.
These courses can help you:
- build confidence
- grow positive relationships with your children
- add simple, practical strategies to your parenting toolbox
Go to www.inourplace.co.uk, apply the access code Invicta, and register for an account. You can complete courses at your own pace, starting in pregnancy up until your child’s 19th birthday.
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:
- Relax: let your children have time to just be themselves and relax. You can find lots of ideas for self-care and relaxation here. 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. Why not head out as a family for a walk or cycle ride. See Change4Life for some ideas for indoor games and activities.
- Healthy food It may be tempting to give your child treats, such as sweets or chocolate, for things they might be missing out on, 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. If you're having sleep problems, Every Mind Matters has simple steps you can take to ease those restless nights. Moodsparks has some resources for young people, including a Spotify sleep playlist and tips from other local young people.
Parenting or caring for a child or young person can be tough. It's important to make sure you look after your own mental wellbeing, as this will help you support yourself and those you care about.
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 get further support if you need it.
Every Mind Matters is a great resource for parents and carers, to support you and your children to stay mentally healthy. The Kent Resilience hub has lots of resources for local families. Kent County Council has some advice on how to look after your family’s wellbeing here.
If you are struggling because of your child’s behaviour issues you can call 0800 0113 474 to speak confidentially to a member of our single point of access team.
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.
Visit the One You Kent website for advice on reducing your drinking and to download the drink free days app. You can also find advice and support to #Quit4Covid from One You Kent.
Kent County Council has more information about local drug and alcohol services here.
There’s also lots of information 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.
Domestic abuse includes physical, emotional and sexual abuse in couple relationships or between family members. Domestic violence can happen to anyone.
If you feel uncomfortable, pressurised, threatened or have been attacked don't wait, ask for help now.
You can find more information about local support for domestic abuse at domesticabuseservices.org.uk. They offer confidential, non-judgemental information and support. Women can call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline (0808 2000 247), men the Mens' Advice Line (0808 8010327) and children and young people can call ChildLine on 0800 1111 for free confidential support at any time, day or night. Childline online is also available.
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.
While preventing the spread of COVID-19 and caring for those infected is a public health priority, it remains very important to maintain good coverage of immunisations, particularly in the childhood programme. In addition to protecting the individual, this will avoid outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases that could harm individuals and increase further the numbers of patients requiring health services.
School-age vaccination providers are working to restore vaccination programmes, in line with local needs and arrangements. The immunisation team has put together some FAQs for parents here.