Renfrewshire Council

Last reviewed: 18:20, 28 May 2020

Mental health and wellbeing

Advice on helping young people and adults to manage in unsettling times

On this page:


In an emergency

Please get the help you need

  • Samaritans suicide prevention helpline 116 123
  • Life threatening mental health emergencies 999
  • NHS urgent mental health care 111

Support for your child

It's easy for your child to feel overwhelmed by being stuck indoors most of the day, missing their friends and out of their usual routine at nursery or school.

They probably are finding it difficult to understand what they are seeing and hearing about Coronavirus and they are just as vulnerable to being stressed, anxious and sad like the rest of us.

Schools and nurseries can help

During these uncertain and incredibly challenging times, you can still rely on us to help you if you need advice or support for your child and your family's wellbeing. We know that you may need us more than ever and we're happy to help.

Please speak to your child's school and tell them what is going on. They can get in touch with our Education Psychology Service team who have set up a Coping During Covid-19 support service. They will then phone you back to listen and support you.

Each school issued guidance on how to keep in touch with them during the school closures, but if you don't have that information you can get in touch through your school's email address. You can see these contact details on our nurseries, primaries, secondaries and ASN school sections.

Ideas to help you support your child

Alongside school and nursery support, parents can help by asking their child to discuss their feelings in a safe environment It's also useful to maintain a sense of normality, routine and calm and this will help children and young people manage their feelings and build resilience. Here are some ideas to help you.

  1. Ask open questions and listen. Find out how much your child already knows and follow their lead. If your child is young and has not heard about the outbreak you may not need to raise the issue.
  2. Offer reassurance.Children may not distinguish between the images they see on TV/social media and their own personal realityReassure your child that adults are there to keep them safe.
  3. Be honest.Give information at an appropriate level for your child's understanding. Watch their reactions and be sensitive to their level of anxiety. Adults have a responsibility to keep children safe from distress.
  4. Provide opportunities for children and young people to be honest about their feelings.Sharing worries or feelings of upset with other family members will help reduce a sense of vulnerability and isolation and raise optimism. Acknowledge your child's feelings and let them know that it is natural to be worried or scared. Give your child your full attention and make sure that they know that they can speak to you whenever they like.
  5. Help your child to cope with stress by making opportunities for them to play and relax. Set aside time to play with your child, perhaps teach them to play your favourite board game from when you were little. 
  6. Maintain a normal routine.Set up a work/leisure/exercise routine for your child at home. Make extra time to listen to what your child needs to tell you.
  7. Place an emphasis on resilience and strengths.Focus on your child's skills, in terms of their daily life. Help them see they have many strengths to help them cope if feeling anxious or upset.
  8. Share positive stories of people helping each other with Acts of Kindness and generosity.This can be a big comfort and can help to restore positivity about the world.
  9. Provide opportunities for physical exercise.Exercise is valuable in producing natural chemicals in the brain to help us cope with feelings such as shock or worry.
  10. Communicate any concerns with your child's school or nursery.If you have any worries or concerns about your child's emotional wellbeing please do let the establishment know.
  11. Look after yourself.You will be able to help your child better if you are coping too. Children will pick up on your response, so it helps them to know that you are calm and in control. Please take care of yourself and reach out to friends, family or other trusted adults if you are feeling anxious or upset.

Produced by Renfrewshire Educational Psychology Service drawing on information from UNICEF and Chinese International School in Hong Kong. 

Help and support:

For advice and support to ensure your mental wellbeing as a parent or carer, please see our Support for parents and carers and Support for adults sections below.


Support for young people

It's natural for young people to feel sad, distressed, worried, confused, scared or angry during the pandemic, especially as for many young people their routine will have drastically changed. 

For young people who attend school, college or university will be worried about how this affects their exams or progressing into further years. The latest update on exams and coursework can be found here - SQA Awards.

Teachers are available for young people to confide in and ask for support and they will refer young people for additional support if they see signs that they are struggling.

Physical distancing means many young people won't see their friends and might not be able to see their family either. It is important to phone or video call them to keep in touch and increase their social activity. If they are having to isolate or are shielding due to being at risk, you should continue to keep in contact with them, particularly if they live on their own. 

Parents of young people or young people themselves can find tips and support on looking after their mental health on the Young Scot website.

Help and support:


Support for parents and carers

We know that for parents and carers trying to balance home learning, keeping their child busy while also trying to work from home is incredibly challenging.

Please know that you are doing a great job already. Keeping your child active, happy and healthy are the main priorities right now. Please take time to have regular breaks, to do physical activity and to spend time outdoors together (within Government guidelines on physical distancing).

If you want some ideas, you can visit the How to keep your child active, happy and healthy section on our schools and nurseries advice page.

If you are worried about your child or need family support, you can contact your child's nursery or school for advice. Please see our Support for your child section above. 

It's also important to look after yourself. Call a friend, speak with family, or go for a walk (within Government guidelines on physical distancing) if you are feeling anxious or upset.

Help and support


Support for adults

Most of us aren't used to being in the house all day and we know that doing so can have a negative impact on our mental wellbeing.

Physical distancing means many of us aren't seeing our family and friends, so it is important to phone or video call them to keep in touch and increase your social activity. If you're having to social isolate or are shielding due to being at risk, you should try to keep in contact with people as much as you can.

Call RAMH First Crisis freephone on 0800 221 8929 (or 0141 848 9090at standard rate) if you have depression, thoughts of self-harm, bipolar disorder, anxiety and other conditions and need support. The service is available seven days a week, 365 days a year, Monday to Friday from 9am to 8pm and on Saturdays and Sundays from 9am to 5pm.

You might also be suffering from financial hardship. Please get in touch with free and impartial money advice services, such as the Council's Advice Works service on 0300 300 1238.

The NHS website has resources and advice to support your mental health during the coronavirus pandemic. 

If you struggled with your mental health before the outbreak of coronavirus, you should call your GP or your care team first. If you're unable to talk to them, call 111 or in an emergency call for an ambulance on 999.

Help and support


Support for older adults

Anyone aged 70 or older is being asked by the NHS to stay at home for 12 weeks. This shielding is to protect as many lives as possible, but we know that for some older people this will mean reduced social contact and this can negatively impact mental wellbeing. 

It's important that you continue to talk to family and friends, whether by phone or going online to video call them. There is a helpful how-to article on video calling on the BBC website

For more advice and support, visit Age UK's website


Where to find additional support

Age UK 0800 12 44 222 

Anxiety UK 03444 775 773or text service 07537 416 905

Breathing Space 0800 83 85 87

Childline 0800 1111

Children 1st coping with stress

Children 1st mental wellbeing advice

Choose Life Renfrewshire support

CRISIS counselling

Mental Health

NHS Inform mental wellbeing information

NHS Inform tips on improving your mental health

RAMH First Crisis 0141 848 9090

Samaritans 116 123,text service 07725 90 90 90or email service jo@samaritans.org

Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH)

SHOUT! crisis support text shout to 85258

Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) 1800 273 8255

Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS)

You First advocacy service

Young Minds Parent Helpline 0808 802 5544