Wellbeing Support

Dear School Community,

In addition to the message sent via Compass on Wednesday March 25 in relation to the provision of school’s Wellbeing and Engagement services if/when working remotely to support learning and wellbeing continuity, please find below some tips to assist families:

Students who have existing appointments with a member of the well-being team are welcome to have a phone session.  This will need to be scheduled and arranged directly with either Linda, Jamie or Jo via email. 

Students/ parents are also welcome to email if they have any concerns about their child’s wellbeing during school working hours 8.30am – 4.30pm Monday to Friday, where further support/ information can be provided in more specific contexts. 

Tips for Coping with Coronavirus Anxiety
As the number of coronavirus cases rise across Australia, the level of anxiety within the community is increasing. Feelings of worry and uncertainty can be expected. It is important that we learn to manage our stress before it turns to more severe anxiety and panic (APS, 2020).

This following information outlines some useful strategies which can help both adults and children cope with the stress or anxiety experienced as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

 Listen to the child and acknowledge any fears. Reassure the child that, given widespread media attention on COVID-19, it is understandable that they are worried about what is happening and how it could impact their lives.
 Normalise the child’s feelings. Let the child know that media exposure or hearing adults talk about worrying events such as COVID-19 might lead to heightened feelings of fear and apprehension, that this is normal, and such feelings will subside. Provide perspective.
 Respond to incorrect information or assumptions. Explain how information can be distorted when it is passed from one person to the next, as in the game known as ‘Chinese Whispers’ or ‘Broken telephone’
 Know the facts. Don’t speculate — keep up to date. Inform the child or your class about what is happening in a way that does not promote further anxiety. Refer to the Australian Government Department of Health Coronavirus
(COVID-19) resources.

Learn the facts
Constant media coverage about the coronavirus can keep us in a heightened state of anxiety. Try to limit related media exposure and instead seek out factual information from reliable sources such as the Australian Government’s health alert or other trusted organisations such as the World Health Organization (APS, 2020).

Practise self-care
To help encourage a positive frame of mind, it is important to look after yourself. Everybody practises self-care differently with some examples including:
 Maintaining good social connections and communicating openly with family and friends
 Making time for activities and hobbies you enjoy
 Keeping up a healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, getting quality sleep and avoiding the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs to cope with stress
 Practising relaxation, meditation and mindfulness to give your body a chance to settle and readjust to a calm state.

Tips for talking with children about the coronavirus
Children will inevitably pick up on the concerns and anxiety of others, whether this is through listening and observing what is happening at home or at school. It is important that they can speak to you about their own concerns.

Answer their questions
Do not be afraid to talk about the coronavirus with children. Given the extensive media coverage and the increasing number of people wearing face masks in public, it is not surprising that some children are already aware of the virus. 
You can do this by:
 Speaking to them about coronavirus in a calm manner
 Asking them what they already know about the virus so you can clarify any misunderstandings they may have
 Letting them know that it is normal to experience some anxiety when new and stressful situations arise
 Giving them a sense of control by explaining what they can do to stay safe (e.g., wash their hands regularly, stay away from people who are coughing or sneezing)
 Not overwhelming them with unnecessary information (e.g., death rates) as this can increase their anxiety
 Reassure them that coronavirus is less common and severe in children compared to adults
 Allowing regular contact (e.g., by phone) with people they may worry about, such as grandparents, to reassure them that they are okay.

Talk about how they are feeling
Explain to your child that it is normal to feel worried about getting sick. Listen to your child’s concerns and reassure them that you are there to help them with whatever may arise in the future. It is important to model calmness when discussing the coronavirus with children and not alarm them with any concerns you may have about it. Children will look to you for cues on how to manage their own worries so it is important to stay calm and manage your own anxieties before bringing up the subject with them and answering their questions.

Limit media exposure
It is important to monitor children’s exposure to media reports about the coronavirus as frequent exposure can increase their level of fear and anxiety. Try to be with your child when they are watching, listening or reading the news so you are able to address any questions or concerns they may have.

Further Resources to Assist Parents and Carers to Communicate and Support their Child:
Please find some further helpful resources below:
Lifemind Australia has established accessible links to vital connections and resources which are designed to support the mental health and wellbeing of those experiencing an indirect or direct impact from COVID-19.
Emerging Minds has a helpful video, factsheets and many tips to guide your discussion.