Young people facing isolation and uncertainty during the coronavirus outbreak have been urged to take advantage of video calls and find a positive online community to protect their mental health.
Tips published by mental health charity YoungMinds also include taking a break from the news, reading a book and playing online games with friends.
Young people feeling overwhelmed about Covid-19 should talk about their feelings, arm themselves with the facts and be aware of the practical steps they can take to minimise their risk, it advises.
The charity is providing information on its website to help families cope with uncertainty, social isolation, health anxiety, bereavement, additional caring responsibilities and gaps in mental health support in the coming weeks.
One set of guidance reads: “It’s important during this time that you keep acknowledging how you are feeling and do this regularly.
“We know that things might continue to feel overwhelming or scary. It’s good for you to talk about this where possible – know that you can say ‘I feel anxious about…’ whenever you need to, and as regularly as you need to.
“You may find that you need extra support, so think about who you can turn to. It could be someone you know, or a helpline that can talk to you about how you might be feeling.”
The charity’s helpline for parents will remain open, with operators manning the phones remotely.
Parents are encouraged to talk “honestly but calmly” about the outbreak, and not to shield their children from the news.
It is important to respond to children’s questions and concerns to avoid their anxieties building up, the charity said.
Guidance reads: “Children look to adults in their life for comfort when they are distressed, and will take a lead on how to view things from you.
“Remember, you don’t have to have all the answers, but it is better to have a gentle conversation to reassure your child that they can talk to you so they don’t feel like they’re on their own.”
Emma Thomas, chief executive of YoungMinds, said: “We know that many young people are finding the uncertainty surrounding coronavirus unsettling, especially as what might happen in the coming weeks and months is still unknown.
“Whatever situation young people are in, we hope to help them prepare and share advice and support.
“We also know that this is a particularly difficult time for parents, and that many are worried about the impact that school closures, insecurity and illness could have on the wellbeing of the whole family.
“At YoungMinds we believe it is imperative that we all work together during this period of instability and look after each other’s physical and mental health.”