Mental Health & Well-being – Returning to school post Coronavirus (Covid-19)
The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown has been an unprecedented situation in modern times. It is impossible to gauge the full impact that the situation has, or may continue to have on children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing.
Experiences during the lockdown period will have been very varied. For some, it will mostly have been a safe and enjoyable time. For others, it will have been challenging or traumatic. School staff are experienced in supporting their pupils through challenges that they face in life, providing the role of “brick parent” (a secure base, a safe haven) where appropriate.
Issues caused by the pandemic could include:
• Loss (missing things or people)
• Changes to Friendships (which can affect sense of self-worth)
• Anxiety, fear, confusion
• Disrupted sleep patterns
• Worry about returning to school
• Lack of structure/routine/rules
• Lack of educational work
• Issues with family relationship (witnessing more arguments, parents split up, tensions, anxieties around health and work)
• Greater exposure to technology at a younger age – often unsupervised; issues of bullying etc
The above issues could see pupils facing greater challenge when experiencing, managing or attempting to regulate:
• Fear, anxiety, uncertainty
• Self-regulation (behaviour)
In school, the above may manifest as pupils presenting as:
• Hard to settle
• Not wanting to come to school
• Unable to concentrate
If a child is worried before returning to school:
• We will elicit their views and concerns – Lee Brigg Infant & Nursery School is a ‘listening’ school
• We will provide support by way of transitional videos of new classes and routines
• We can provide social stories to ease anxieties
• We will narrate the experience causing concern, using questions to explore what happens next
• We will utilise “Name it to tame it” by way of identifying and working through their feelings.
I am feeling ___, because ___; When I feel ____, I can _____
• We will ask children to create a scrap book of things they’ve achieved or about themselves.
Miss Steer has some wonderful mindfulness mini lessons available on Youtube!
If a child presents as having particular difficulty:
• We will remember all behaviour is communication.
• We will endeavour to explore what their behaviour attempting to communicate
• We will remember the importance of ‘connection before correction’
• Use P.A.C.E.
- Playful interactions at first creates sense of safety
- Acceptance – I know you’re worried about being here; I know you loved being at home and it’s sad to be back
- Curiosity – I’ve noticed you’ve been quiet since coming back; I think you might be worried about something
- Empathy – I know this is tough for you. Things are different since last time you were here