Advice for children and young people who receive counselling and other support

Last reviewed on 5 October 2020

If you receive professional support for a mental health condition (such as anxiety or depression), ADHD, autism or another condition, it’s likely that your appointments have been affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. You might not be able to see your support worker or team face-to-face at this time, for example. Good Thinking has considered some of the questions you might have.

I’m really anxious/scared about coronavirus... who can I talk to?

This is a really challenging time for everyone so it’s OK to not feel OK. A recent survey by Barnardo's found that boredom (51%), worry (28%) and feeling trapped (26%) are the top three emotions experienced by children and young people in lockdown. The most important thing is to keep talking.

Tell your mum, dad or carer how you’re feeling and discuss how they can help you. Your friends might also be able to offer support and you can always speak to your teacher. When you have your next appointment, let your support worker know if you’d like to discuss your concerns about coronavirus.

Remember that most people who get coronavirus have mild symptoms. Always follow the official advice about staying at home, social distancing and hand hygiene to protect yourself and others. The NHS website has lots of useful information.

Can I still have my appointment?

Although you might not be able to see your support worker or team in person, you should be able to do it on the phone or online. A survey by YoungMinds in March 2020 found that three quarters (74%) of young people are still able to access some form of mental health support, even if the service has been adapted because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Setting up a new system of ‘virtual’ appointments and ensuring your treatment team has the right equipment and online tools might have taken some time but, by now, you should have received information from your support provider (e.g. your NHS Trust or a voluntary sector organisation).

If you’re worried about having your appointment over the phone or by video while you’re at home (because of lack of privacy from other family members or housemates), let your support worker know.

Will I be able to speak to my usual support worker?

Your treatment team is probably very busy dealing with the changes brought about by coronavirus and some people might be off sick so you might find that your appointment is with someone unfamiliar. Rest assured, they will have all your notes and be able to support you in the same way your usual support worker does.

I’m half way through my treatment... might this set me back?

It’s important to be flexible as things are changing every day. Any support you receive will be in line with your care plan and any missed appointments will be rescheduled.

Is there anything I need to do regarding my medication?

You should get your prescriptions and medication in the usual way but please be aware that GPs and pharmacies are very busy at the moment. Plan ahead and order it sooner than you would normally so you can be sure you don’t run out – maybe put a reminder on your phone for 5-7 days before you need it.

If you’re not already using the NHS app for repeat prescriptions, you might find it useful. Don’t buy any medication from online pharmacies.

What can I do to look after my mental wellbeing at the moment?

Your parent or carer can help you to cope with all the changes in your life, including disruption to your usual routine. It’s really important that everyone in your family tries to be patient and kind to each other at this time.

You might also find it useful to focus on staying active, eating healthily, talking to family and friends and getting enough sleep over the coming weeks. Try to balance out screen time with other activities. You can find lots more useful tips in Good Thinking’s advice for children and young people.

In a recent survey by YoungMinds (March 2020), young people with mental health needs revealed what they are finding most helpful at the moment – video calls with friends (72%), watching TV and films (72%), exercise (60%) and learning new skills (59%) came out on top. Young people told YoungMinds that the least helpful activities are going on social media and reading or watching the news.

Where can I go for urgent help?

If you have run out of medication or it is an emergency situation, contact the Single Point of Access (SPA) 24/7 helpline. If you have symptoms of coronavirus, call NHS 111 (or call 999 in an emergency). If you’re in crisis, phone your local crisis line or text Shout to 85258.

Useful websites

ADHD Voices

Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families

Beat

Carol Gray Social Stories (coronavirus)

Childline

Counselling Directory

National Autistic Society

Shout

Speaking Space

The Curly Hair Project

The Mix

YoungMinds

You might find our articles about eating disorders, ADHD, how to deal with uncertainty and how to deal with anger useful. You'll also find lots of interesting podcasts on Good Thinking, including interviews with an OCD expert, the eating disorder charity Beat and Shout – the crisis text line.