Pastoral Support: Mental Health & Wellbeing

We are aware that the current situation regarding the Coronvirous or Covid 19 is a difficult time for everyone, including our students, of all ages. 

The World Health Organization describes mental health as “a state of well-being in which every individual realises their own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”

Whilst we continue to pray for our Christ’s College community and the world, we also wish to support our families by signposting to a few of the many pastoral support, advice, guidance and professional services that are operating to support children and young people in the area of mental health at this time.   

These tips have been put together using materials from various sources. 

General Tips for talking to younger children

Advice shared nationally from educational psychologist Catrin Harley:

1. Deal with the news head-on and talk about it openly and calmly, giving them the facts

  • Give them age-appropriate information – take a look at:
  • Educate them about reliable sources of information and how some stories on social media may be based on rumours or inaccurate information
  • Encourage them to take breaks from listening to or reading the news – overexposure isn’t helpful (can be harmful)

2. Encourage questions

  • This will give them the confidence to reach out and ask, if they have anything to ask
  • Use comforting tones and be honest when answering questions – it’s ok if you don’t have all the answers
  • Allow for repetition – children tend to repeat themselves when they’re feeling uncertain or worried, so you might have to answer the same questions more than once as they seek extra reassurance

3. Be a role model

  • Recognise and manage your own worries first
  • Be open about sharing this with children – e.g. I’m also finding the news a bit worrying, so I’m doing X which makes me feel calm

4. Let them know it’s normal to be concerned

  • If needed, reassure them as best as you can. Explain the precautions you are taking and help them to take care too.

5. Promote awareness of our body’s immune system

  • It’s constantly working against germs without us knowing. We can’t and don’t need to control this process
  • Explain that we’re taking precautions against this particular germ because it’s a new one which our bodies haven’t come across before
  • Remind them of the benefits of healthy eating, sleep and exercise – which help to fight germs

6. Be aware of children with higher levels of anxiety (e.g. those with existing phobias or obsessive-compulsive disorders)

  • Get them to do activities such as counting, ordering and sorting tasks which can help with heightened levels of anxiety
  • Encourage them to use relaxation techniques such as controlled breathing
  • Detect any obsessive or compulsive behaviours early and intervene before they become entrenched patterns of thinking. Do this by challenging unhelpful thoughts and assumptions. Frame worries as situation-specific by relating them to the current situation, which is temporary and unusual

7. Keep doing your bit to help children reduce the spread of germs

  • Remind children and young people how and when to wash their hands – there are lots of posters and information films on line
  • Encourage them to sing ‘happy birthday’ twice when they’re washing their hands (or other songs of choice so long as they last for at least 20 seconds).

Feeling Better – Resources for parents and carers helping children cope with their worries.

It can be especially difficult to help very young children with their worries. The following hyperlink provides parents/carers with a collection of clips presented by Dr Radha Mogil that explores a whole range of feelings and emotions, as well as providing talking points and tools to feel better.

The clips are suitable for use with students at Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and Key Stage 1 (KS1).

Confidential Free phone number. A helpline for children. Calls accepted from 9:00am to midnight. (Reduced hours due to Coronavirus)

Provides 1:1 counselling. Email and online services are also available.

National Society for the Prevention of cruelty to children.

Reporting and advice.

NHS website to help people of all ages with all aspects of mental health and staying at home.

Kooth is for children and young people. It provides a method of accessing counselling on line. Success depends on the ability to type questions and responses therefore works best for KS3 & KS4.

‘Emotional health and wellbeing is the emotional resilience that enables us to enjoy life and to survive pain, suffering and disappointment. It is a positive sense of wellbeing and an underlying belief in our own worth and of others. Emotional health and wellbeing is embedded in social relations built upon social skills that are developed from birth.’ (Elizabeth Hartley-Brewer, 2001)

What’s on Kooth in December
Kooth over the holiday period

BBC Radio One – Podcasts

With Dr Radha speaking as art of the lifehack series. Dr Radha provides practical advice and guidance, on mental health, for adults and young people.

Coronavirus: How can I look after my mental heath?

One of many sessions available. Check out the BBC Sounds website for more information.

What is ‘good’ emotional health and wellbeing in our school?

  • The ability to recognise, acknowledge and manage their feelings
  • The ability to develop caring and concerns for others
  • The ability to develop meaningful, positive and long-lasting relationships
  • The ability to take responsibility for themselves and make practical decisions
  • For all in our school

Support for mental and emotional wellbeing.

Wellbeing measures include observations focusing on any changes in behaviour, attention and presentation.

These will feed into the identification process as well as any communication from the pupils regarding their emotions and feelings.

A national and local charity providing support for all aspects of mental health – working with children, young people and adults.

Wellbeing Info

A site grouping together agencies helping with various issues such as domestic violence and mental health.

Wearside Women in Need

Charity working with victims of domestic violence.

24hr Helpline: 0800 066 5555


Charity working to prevent suicide.

No judgment, no pressure. Working with people of all ages.

Ideas for staying active and eating healthily at home

Change 4 Life Sunderland – Alternative recipe book

Anne Freud – National Centre for Children and Families

Coronavirus Support

Anne Freud – National Centre for Children and Families


A national charity with experience in helping families support people with all types of anxiety.

Community Safeguarding News – County Lines: 

The following link has been supplied by Northumbria Police to give students, parents/carers  help and advice, raising awareness of the risks to our students.  The last page gives some useful contacts and sources of support.  If you would like to discuss a situation or would like further information regarding County Lines please do not hesitate to contact school and ask to speak to a Designated Safeguarding Lead.

County Lines Parent and Carer Leaflet