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Maintaining Positive Wellbeing During Lockdown

Good mental health is about being able to reach one’s full potential. It includes things like being able to work and study, cope with day-to-day life stresses, feel connected to others and be involved in the community. Maintaining good mental health throughout adolescence can be challenging. Add to this the impact of a pandemic, lockdowns and remote learning, and these challenges are amplified. Students miss hanging out with their friends and the interaction and fun that comes with face-to-face learning in a classroom and other school activities and events that help maintain connectedness. 


The Role of Parents/Guardians in Supporting a Child’s Wellbeing

A child who has good mental health is more likely to have better emotional and social wellbeing and be able to cope with change and challenges.

However, it can often be hard to know the difference between normal behaviour, such as occasional moodiness and irritability, and an emerging mental health issue. 


What are the warning signs that my child might be experiencing mental health issues? 

Significant changes in behaviour that last longer than a few weeks may indicate mental health difficulties. Look out for the following in your child: 

  • changes in appetite or sleeping patterns 
  • being easily irritated or angry 
  • being less interested and involved in activities they would normally enjoy 
  • finding their performance at school is not as good as it once was 
  • being involved in unusual risky behaviour 
  • having difficulties with concentration or motivation 
  • seeming unusually stressed or worried, or feeling down or crying for no apparent reason 
  • expressing negative, distressing or out-of-character thoughts 

What can I say to start a conversation with my child about their mental health? 
There is no perfect way to start a conversation about mental health with your child. Sometimes it can be helpful to begin with general and open question such as: 

  • How is [e.g. school/music class] going? 
  • How are you getting on with [e.g., your friends/your siblings]? 
  • How are you feeling about [e.g., studying/exams]? 


To focus on more specific thoughts and feelings, you could try using the following statements: 

  • I’ve noticed that you seem to have a lot on your mind lately. I’m happy to talk or listen and see if I can help. 
  • It seems like you [haven’t been yourself lately/have been up and down], how are things? 
  • You seem [anxious/sad], what is happening for you? We can work it out together. 
  • It’s ok if you don’t want to talk to me, you could talk to [trusted/known adult]. I will keep letting you know I love you and am concerned. 

Often a child is worried about their parents/guardians being upset, anxious, overwhelmed, shocked or angry if they express how they are feeling. If a child can see that their parent/guardian will respond calmly and listen, they are more likely to have a conversation. 


What can I do to encourage my child’s positive wellbeing? 

  • Encourage your child to go outside for a walk, to exercise, eat healthily, maintain regular sleep and keep doing things they enjoy – this will help their physical health as well as mental health. 
  • Encourage and support positive friendships. 
  • Take their feelings seriously – show empathy, listen carefully and don’t judge. 
  • Spend regular time with your child – one activity a week together, to build openness. 
  • Let them know that you love them and that you will be there for them. 
  • Talk openly and honestly with them at an appropriate time and place. For example, would 
    they find it easier to talk while going for a drive or a walk? Would they prefer to have 
    someone else there for support? 
  • Offer to help your child find more information about how they are feeling and help them 
    access an appropriate support service, such as headspace. 


Advice for students on how to adapt during lockdown 

and recommendations for young people to continue looking after themselves: 

  • Taking a break from the news and social media, 
  • Spending time with people who make you laugh and feel happy, 
  • Doing some exercise, 
  • Trying to eat healthily and keeping the unhealthy snack foods and drinks as treats, 
  • Getting creative with some art, poetry or music, 
  • Trying meditation and mindfulness. 

It is important to know that some children might deny there is anything wrong and/or refuse help. Opening up about personal thoughts and feelings can take some time so it’s important to be persistent and to continue to regularly check-in with your child. 

Should you find it challenging to have a conversation with your child you could suggest other people your child could talk to, for example, a teacher, a Doctor/GP, Headspace or Kids Helpline.

Alternatively, you can find further support and advice for parents at the sources below. 

For further support refer to: 

DET For Parents page: Looking after your child’s wellbeing Supporting your teen during coronavirus COVID-19 Family Guide 

(Article adapted from: about-mental-health/)