Although it's meant to be a time of celebration with family and friends, some students won’t be celebrating this Christmas. Others might have to deal with family illness or bereavement. Many are exposed to situations and experiences that can make them particularly vulnerable.
Holidays should be a time for young people to relax, enjoy themselves and see people who make them feel good. This will help them feel rested for the coming term. Knowing how stressful this time of year can be, we thought it would be helpful to put together some ideas and resources to help schools plan and prepare students to have the best possible Christmas break.
Young people have put together some of their own ideas about how to get the best out of the Christmas period: How to Thrive at Christmas.pdf
Growing up in the online world has many benefits for children and young people, but also creates pressures that simply didn’t exist 20 years ago. During the holidays, young people talk about the pressure of constantly being available, of comparing their own lives to the ‘perfect lives’ they see on social media, and of dealing with bullying and harassment online.
The digital world has the potential to protect and enhance the mental health and wellbeing of our children and young people but sometimes young people need help to be selective about how they use it. We are raising a generation of ‘digital natives’ who differ from previous generations in the way they communicate. Below are a few ideas to support your work to help young people cope with the pressures of the internet:
1. Blog - The charity Mind promotes the YouTube star and teen icon, Zoe Sugg (Zoella), as its Digital Ambassador. She has used her blog to share open and honest accounts of her own battles with anxiety and panic attacks, and launched the initiative #DontPanicButton:Mind's digital ambassador blog
2. Apps - Below are some positive mental health apps for young people to consider and share.
MINDSHIFT Struggling with anxiety? Tired of missing out? There are things you can do to stop anxiety and fear from controlling your life. MindShift is an app designed to help teens and young adults cope with anxiety. It can help you change how you think about anxiety. Rather than trying to avoid anxiety, you can make an important shift and face it. The app teaches relaxation skills, develops new thinking and suggests healthy activities.
Stop, Breathe & Think helps children and young people discover their superpowers of quiet, focus and peaceful sleep.
Please note that whilst apps may be useful, they are not a replacement for seeking medical advice if you have concerns about symptoms you or someone you know may be experiencing.
3. Safety - Here are some useful on-line safety tools related to mental health aimed at children, parents, carers and professionals. Child Exploitation and On-line Protection:
4. Promote the idea of a digital sunset - to help get a good night’s sleep start by logging off from everything: switch off your phone (put it in airplane mode if you need the alarm clock); if you’re gaming, save then switch off your console; shut down your computer.
Christmas is also a time to think about others who may be going through a difficult time such as a bereavement, illness or separation. Action for Happiness have created a Christmas calendar to help us think about others:
Here are some excellent resources to help promote children and young people’s emotional health and wellbeing:
Young Minds - Caring for the wellbeing of teachers and school staff: YoungMinds - Teacher Wellbeing
Childline - Family wellbeing at Christmas:www.childline.org.uk/info-advice/home-families/seasonal-events/christmas/#Whatyoucando
Anna Freud - A series of podcasts put together by the Anna Freud National Centre for children and families www.annafreud.org/insights/news/2016/08/ground-breaking-podcast-series-launched/
Life Hacks - developed by young people in Somerset to promote your own mental health and tips and ideas if you have concerns about a friend: www.cypsomersethealth.org/lifehacks
Samaritans: www.samaritans.org (116 123) – LOCAL - operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you're feeling, or if you're worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at
Let’s remember that there is one change that we can all contribute to. We can all look out for those children and young people who might be struggling right now. We can confront bullying and we can make it OK for a student to admit that they are experiencing difficulties with their mental health. If you are worried about a young person’s mental health contact:
The local The Single point of access for CAMHS www.cypsomersethealth.org/resources/Single_Point_of_Access_for_CAMHS.pdf
For further information about supporting Emotional and Mental Health in Schools, including the new SHARE project, go to:http://www.cypsomersethealth.org/news&id=291