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How to spot the signs that your child is anxious about returning to school - and how the NHS can help

Wales Online logo Wales Online 01/06/2020 Brett Gibbons & Raina Wilson
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Schools reopening could be causing anxiety for some children - while those still learning at home may also be suffering.

A leading expert is warning parents to be on the look-out for signs their youngsters could be suffering mental health issues as some return to school, after months of being at home.

There are also the issues of those who would like to return but remain at home and may be feeling left out or isolated as their friends return to classrooms. They too could also be vulnerable to mental health issues, reports the Birmingham Mail.

Professor Prathiba Chitsabesan, NHS England associate national clinical director for Children and Young People’s Mental Health, said: “Children and young people may be experiencing a variety of feelings in response to the coronavirus pandemic, including anxiety, distress and low mood. 

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"It it is important to understand these are normal responses to an abnormal situation.

“The NHS offers a large amount of mental health support for children and young people, and if a child needs urgent mental health support or advice, check nhs.uk for services in your area, including 24/7 crisis support.”

Parents can take simple steps to help sons or daughters who might be struggling to deal with the loneliness and uncertainty of lockdown or fears about returning to school.

Signs parents should look out for

  • Children are more upset or find it hard to manage their emotions
  • They may appear anxious or distressed
  • Increasing trouble with sleeping and eating
  • Appearing low in mood, withdrawn or tearful
  • Reporting worried or negative thoughts about themselves or their future
  • For younger children, there may be more bedwetting

If a parent is worried about their child’s mental health, they can help by

  • Making time to talk to your child
  • Allow your child to talk about their feelings
  • Try to understand their problems and provide reassurance that you have heard them and are there to help
  • Help your child do positive activities
  • Try to keep a routine over the next few weeks
  • Look after your own mental health

Gallery: 7 things mental health experts wish you knew about anxiety (Business Insider)

Claire Murdoch, NHS England national mental health director, said: “We know children and young people’s lives have been disrupted during these uncertain times, and some may be suffering from anxiety as schools reopen.

“The NHS is open for business as usual and has adapted to the coronavirus crisis through offering flexible options including phone and video consultations and online support.”

Schools will be operating differently as they begin to reopen, with some class sizes as small as six pupils.

Anyone with any issues should call the NHS helpline on 111 for advice.

Stay at home to stop coronavirus spreading - here is what you can and can't do. If you think you have the virus, don't go to the GP or hospital, stay indoors and get advice online. Only call NHS 111 if you cannot cope with your symptoms at home; your condition gets worse; or your symptoms do not get better after seven days. In parts of Wales where 111 isn't available, call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47. In Scotland, anyone with symptoms is advised to self-isolate for seven days. In Northern Ireland, call your GP.

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