Renfrewshire Council

Last updated: 12.00 on 3 April 2020

Mental health and wellbeing advice

Advice on helping young people and adults to manage in unsettling times

On this page:

Why children and young people might be anxious

There has been a lot of coverage in the media and social media about the Coronavirus and it is easy to feel overwhelmed by this. It is understandable that children and young people are feeling anxious too. They might find it difficult to understand what they are seeing and hearing about the Coronavirus and so they can be particularly vulnerable to feelings of stress, anxiety and sadness.

Alongside school and nursery support, parents can help by providing opportunities where children can discuss their feelings in a safe environment as well as maintaining a sense of normality, routine and calm. Supporting children and young people in this way will help them to process and manage their feelings and build resilience.

How you can help your child

1. Ask open questions and listen.
Find out how much your child already knows and follow their lead. If your child is young and has not heard about the outbreak you may not need to raise the issue.

2. Offer reassurance.
Children may not distinguish between the images they see on TV/social media and their own personal realityReassure your child that adults are there to keep them safe.

3. Be honest.
Give information at an appropriate level for your child's understanding. Watch their reactions and be sensitive to their level of anxiety. Adults have a responsibility to keep children safe from distress.

4. Provide opportunities for children and young people to be honest about their feelings. 
Sharing worries or feelings of upset with other family members will help reduce a sense of vulnerability and isolation and raise optimism. Acknowledge your child's feelings and let them know that it is natural to be worried or scared. Give your child your full attention and make sure that they know that they can speak to you whenever they like.

5. Help your child to cope with stress by making opportunities for them to play and relax.
Set aside time to play with your child, perhaps teach them to play your favourite board game from when you were little. 

6. Maintain a normal routine.
Set up a work/leisure/exercise routine for your child at home. Make extra time to listen to what your child needs to tell you.

7. Place an emphasis on resilience and strengths.
Focus on your child's skills, in terms of their daily life. Help them see they have many strengths to help them cope if feeling anxious or upset.

8 Share positive stories of people helping each other with Acts of Kindness and generosity.
This can be a big comfort and can help to restore positivity about the world.

9. Provide opportunities for physical exercise.
Exercise is valuable in producing natural chemicals in the brain to help us cope with feelings such as shock or worry.

10 Communicate any concerns with your child's school or nursery.
If you have any worries or concerns about your child's emotional wellbeing please do let the establishment know.

11 Look after yourself.
You will be able to help your child better if you are coping too. Children will pick up on your response, so it helps them to know that you are calm and in control. Please take care of yourself and reach out to friends, family or other trusted adults if you are feeling anxious or upset.

Produced by Renfrewshire Educational Psychology Service drawing on information from UNICEF and Chinese International School in Hong Kong. 

To get more advice and support, contact @RenfrewshireEPS on Twitter or visit the Parent Club website.

Support for young people

It's natural for young people to feel sad, distressed, worried, confused, scared or angry during the pandemic, especially as for many young people their routine will have drastically changed. 

For young people who attend school, college or university will be worried about how this affects their exams or progressing into further years. You should visit MySQA for high school exams and your college or university for more information on further and higher education exams.  

Social distancing means many young people won't see their friends and might not be able to see their family either. It is important to phone or video call them to keep in touch and increase their social activity. If they are having to socially isolate or are shielding due to being at risk, you should continue to keep in contact with them, particularly if they live on their own. 

Parents of young people or young people themselves can find tips and support on looking after their mental health on the Young Scot website.

Support for adults

Most of us aren't used to being in the house all day and we know that doing so can have a negative impact on our mental wellbeing.

Social distancing means many of us aren't seeing our family and friends., so it is important to phone or video call them to keep in touch and increase your social activity. If you're having to social isolate or are shielding due to being at risk, you should try to keep in contact with people as much as you can.

The NHS website has resources and advice to support your mental health during the coronavirus pandemic. 

If you struggled with your mental health before the outbreak of coronavirus, you should call your GP or your care team first. If you're unable to talk to them, call 111 or in an emergency call for an ambulance on 999.

Support for older adults

Anyone aged 70 or older is being asked by the NHS to shield themselves for 12 weeks. This shielding is to protect as many lives as possible, but we know that for some older people this will mean reduced social contact and this can negatively impact mental wellbeing. 

It's important that you continue to talk to family and friends, whether by phone or going online to video call them. There is a helpful how-to article on video calling on the BBC website

For more advice and support, visit Age UK's website

Where to find additional support

Emergency contacts

Samaritans helpline 116 123

Life threatening mental health emergencies 999

NHS urgent mental health care 111


Breathing Space 0800 83 85 87

Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) 1800 273 8255

Young Minds Parent Helpline 0808 802 5544 

Young Scot Infoline 0808 801 0338

Childline 0800 1111

Age Scotland Helpline 0800 12 44 222 

Anxiety UK Helpline 03444 775 773 

Recovery Across Mental Health (RAMH) First Crisis 0141 848 9090

Text and email services

Anxiety UK text service 07537 416 905

Samaritans text service 07725 90 90 90

Samaritans email service

SHOUT text service 85258

Useful links

Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH)

Breathing Space


Recovery Across Mental Health (RAMH)

CRISIS counselling

Choose Life Renfrewshire support

You First advocacy service

Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS)

Mental Health

Anxiety UK 

Age UK 

NHS Inform mental wellbeing information

NHS Inform tips on improving your mental health

Children 1st mental wellbeing advice

Children 1st coping with stress