Experts issue mental health advice as children go back to school

7th Sep
2020

Specialists from Sussex Partnership’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) are offering online tips and guidance to parents and children about going back to school, and how to manage the new feelings and emotions they have experienced during time away from the classroom.

CAMHS in Sussex and Hampshire are provided by Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which provides specialist mental health and learning disability services to children and young people in the county. Advice has been published to help parents communicate with their children, and for teachers and pupils to better understand the situation over the coming weeks and months.

A list of top tips includes advice such as monitoring excessive worry or sadness, unhealthy eating or sleeping habits, and difficulty with attention and concentration.

Dr Alison Wallis, Clinical Director for Children and Young People’s Services at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said: “We understand the lockdown has put families and children under a lot of strain, with changes to their routine, pressures around home schooling and in some situations financial and employment challenges. We are committed to working with parents, young people and teachers to help them understand and manage the strong feelings they may have about their children returning to school.

“The last few months have been a particularly unsettling time for many children, and parents may have noticed changes to their child’s behaviour as a result of them missing their friends, or not being part of mainstream education. Children and young people with disabilities including those with autism spectrum disorder, learning disabilities and ADHD may find the impact of coronavirus particularly difficult to manage. It is important to explain change and manage any anxiety and distress they may be experiencing.”

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 are encouraged to contact NHS 111, they will be asked a series of questions about the health of their child in order to access The Mental Health Triage Service. This can also be accessed through an online platform www.111.nhs.uk.

If you are experiencing a life threatening emergency, please call 999

Dr Wallis continued: “Schools are doing everything they can to keep children and young people safe, while adhering to government guidelines. We know there is lots of uncertainty for parents, children and teachers. Where possible, try and limit the amount of information you look at, online or on TV about coronavirus.”

A wide variety of help and resources is available on the CAMHS websites (https://hampshirecamhs.nhs.uk and https://sussexcamhs.nhs.uk) including help and support for young people, parents and professionals.

Listen to Sussex Partnership’s Partnership Voice podcast offering helpful tips to children, parents, carers and teachers about returning to the classroom here.

Drawing upon national guidance as well as their own clinical experience and expertise our CAMHS practitioners in Hampshire have put together a list of top tips for children, parents and teachers, below…

Top 5 tips for children and young people concerned about going back to school

Top 5 tips for parents and carers for dealing with behavioural changes

Top 5 tips for teachers to help children settle back in at school

“We understand the lockdown has put families and children under a lot of strain, with changes to their routine, pressures around home schooling and in some situations financial and employment challenges. We are committed to working with parents, young people and teachers to help them understand and manage the strong feelings they may have about their children returning to school.”