A boy sitting alone in his bedroom. He looks sad with his head and eyes facing down.

A guide for young people Coronavirus and mental health

The coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic continues to have an impact on our lives in many ways. You might be feeling worried about the future or finding it hard to adjust, but support is available. Read our tips, advice and guidance on looking after your mental health as we learn to live with coronavirus.

The Covid-19 pandemic has been an uncertain time for all of us and we’ve all experienced the effects differently. We’ve had to face a lot of change, with isolation rules, restrictions, lockdowns, shielding and working from home or home schooling, and this is bound to affect how we think and feel.

As we learn to live with Covid-19, the effects are still having an impact on our mental health and wellbeing. The easing of restrictions means we can spend time with people and do the things we enjoy again. However, this might have brought new challenges. You or a loved one might still be shielding or you might be struggling to adjust to the ‘new normal’.

The pandemic may have made you feel:

  • anxious about the future
  • worried that you or a loved one will get ill with Covid-19
  • nervous about social events or being in big groups
  • lonely or isolated
  • hopeless and down
  • lacking in confidence and self-esteem
  • like life is out of control
  • grief if you have lost a loved one
  • grief for events that should have happened during this time but couldn’t
  • angry about experiences or opportunities you might have missed
A girl sitting on a sofa in a living room beside a radiator. She is hunched over and looking down at her hands clasped together.
When things are beyond our control, it's essential to focus on what we can control no matter how small that may be! For example, what helped me to take back control of my life was to look after my mental health, meet my basic needs and establish a self-care routine.
Two young people walking together through a park.

It’s important to recognise how far you’ve come, however big or small the steps you’ve taken. You have managed to get through an incredibly difficult period that has affected everyone around the world. This meant giving up so much to follow restrictions and keep each other safe. However you are feeling is valid and it’s important not to blame yourself when something completely out of your control affects your life.

We’ve all had to go through the pandemic, and so there will be many people out there who feel like you right now – you are not alone. With the right help and support, you can get through this – and we have information and advice that can really help.

If you find yourself feeling down during self-isolation, it can be very easy to slip into the mindset that you are alone, but this isn’t the case.
Laura, 21

Feeling out of control from the impacts of the pandemic

It’s natural to still worry and feel the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown. This might make you feel hopeless about the future and like life is out of your control. After experiencing so much disruption, it’s normal to feel this way and it’s important to remember that you are not alone.

If you feel this way, try taking some time to think about how far you’ve already come. Adapting to change and uncertainty is not easy, and you should feel proud of how you’ve got through all you’ve faced during the pandemic.

Whether you got through having to isolate, having coronavirus, home-schooling, or maintaining relationships and friendships, it shows your resilience and strength, and can give you hope for the future that you can get through it.

It’s also important to remember that you don’t have to go through these things on your own. If you’re feeling hopeless and down, speak to someone you trust about it. It’s likely they will have experienced the same feelings at some point, and knowing that you are not alone can give you hope for the future.

A few of our Activists and bloggers have shared how they’re dealing with feelings of hopelessness in the Covid-19 pandemic.

Read their full blog now
Instagram artwork by @youngmindsuk. Mountains and a yellow sun with text wrapped around that reads 'These Feelings Are Temporary And Won't Last Forever'.

Instagram artwork by @youngmindsuk. Mountains and a yellow sun with text wrapped around that reads 'These Feelings Are Temporary And Won't Last Forever'.

  • We can only do what is within our power – right now, that means staying safe.
    Beth, 25
  • What helps me most when I am stuck in quarantine is creating a timetable for the day. This helps keep the days busy and full of things to look forward to.
    Samantha, 16
  • If you’re feeling especially creative, you could also try making an inspiration board with some of your favourite quotes and images.
    Aimee, 16
  • You may feel alone but you are not; there are people standing beside you who have your back, even if they’re standing beside you in silence.
    Kaitlyn, 16
a boy wearing grey hoodie using his mobile phone while sitting on the ground leaning on a tree
The important thing is if you make a routine but don’t always feel like you can stick to it, or some days you just feel like resting, that’s fine.

Limit your news intake

You might find that reading the news makes you feel overwhelmed, whether it’s about Covid-19 or current events. It’s normal when something big is happening to want to check the news a lot, but with everything that’s going on, this can have a negative impact on our mental health. If you’re finding the news overwhelming, it might be time to limit your news intake.

Here are three tips that can really help:

  • Set your limits

    Limit the time you spend checking the news and try to follow social media accounts that keep you positive and make you smile. Accounts like @the_happy_broadcast on Instagram only post good news stories.

  • #OwnYourFeed

    We have loads of tips on cleaning up your social media feed for a more positive time online - take a look at #OwnYourFeed.

  • Follow us

    Follow the YoungMinds Instagram account! @youngmindsuk

Struggling with anxiety from the pandemic

It is completely normal during times of uncertainty to feel a bit more anxious than usual, and the Covid-19 pandemic brought great uncertainty. So, if you’re struggling with anxiety, you are not alone. We’re all in this together, and help is available if you need it.

After spending so much time at home during the pandemic, unable to socialise, go to school or see your friends in person, it is normal to feel some anxiety about being in social situations again. You might have mixed feelings about the easing of restrictions – that’s very normal. There’s no need to feel guilty if you’re not as excited as some other people are, or you don’t feel ready to go back to how things were. Remember that it's okay to take things at your own pace.

If you are feeling anxious about seeing people again, or being out in public, try taking small steps – for example, you could start by going on a short walk each day and slowly increase the time you are out for. Or if you are going to a social event or seeing someone, you could let them know in advance about how you are feeling. You could discuss with them some things that might make you feel safer or less anxious, such as meeting in a certain place, asking them not to hug you yet, or wearing a mask if they can.

It's normal to feel worried about the rules and regulations changing. But if you find you're worrying so much that it’s becoming hard to do other things, speak to a friend or trusted adult about how you're feeling. For tips on how to start that conversation, have a look at our reaching out for help page.

If you have been shielding during the pandemic, the easing of restrictions may feel especially scary. This is completely understandable and everyone’s situation is different, so it’s important you do what is right for you. You may want to talk to a GP if you have particular health concerns, and they can help you understand what you can do to keep safe.

It’s important to remind yourself that you have your own boundaries and, pandemic or no pandemic, nobody can dictate to you what you should or should not be doing.
Eleanor, 25

Our blogger Gigi, 25, shares how she has been struggling with social anxiety since the easing of lockdown measures, as well as what has helped her cope.

medium shot of two girls sitting on a couch one is using a phone while another girl is glancing on her phone bottles and drinks are on the table as foreground
Next time I will be honest with the friends around me and ask for help if I am feeling anxious – I don’t need to hide how I’m feeling. I have also asked one of them to come for a walk with me away from the group if I say I need it.
Gigi’s story: Coping with social anxiety as lockdown eases
Gigi, 25

It’s understandable if you are experiencing - or have experienced – anxiety about getting sick. When this starts to have a negative effect on your mental health, it is known as health anxiety .

If you are struggling with health anxiety, speak to someone you trust about how you’re feeling and see your doctor if you’re finding it hard to cope. Help is available, and you deserve to feel better.

Our blogger Hattie, 22, has shared her experience of developing health anxiety since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Read Hattie's story

Having the same distressing thoughts and urges again and again can be a symptom of obsessive compulsive disorder. If these thoughts and urges revolve around germs or health, the Covid-19 pandemic may have been a particularly difficult time. If this sounds like you, we have tips and advice that can help.

Our Activist Charlie has shared their experience of coping with OCD during the coronavirus pandemic, including what has helped them.

Read Charlie's story

To find out more about OCD and where to get help, have a look at our guide:

Guide to OCD
Even just going out with my friends can be a challenge at the moment, but we have found that little and often is the best way to make progress and readjust to being in public.
Kerry, 16

Long Covid and mental health

Long Covid is when the signs and symptoms of coronavirus last for four weeks or longer. These symptoms can include:

  • extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • shortness of breath
  • loss of smell
  • muscle aches
  • problems with your memory and concentration ('brain fog')
  • difficulty sleeping

These symptoms might affect your day-to-day life, such as being unable to do the things you enjoyed before being unwell. It might also affect your ability to work, study and go to school, or go about your daily routine.

Whether you or someone close to you is experiencing Long Covid, it’s normal to feel anxious about how long symptoms will last, and frustrated and worried about the future. Our physical health can impact our mental health, and it’s important to notice how you’re feeling. If Long Covid is affecting your mental health, you don’t have to go through it alone and there is help available.

A watercolour image of a blue circle with text in the centre reading: "Small progress is still progress".

Instagram post credit: @laurasnest.de

A watercolour image of a blue circle with text reading: "Small progress is still progress".

Tips for managing Long Covid

  • Talk to your GP

    Your GP can help you find support and advice on how to manage your symptoms, such as counselling, medication and referral to a long Covid service . It can be difficult to explain the effects on your mental health, but we have some advice to help you speak to your doctor.

  • Talk to someone you trust

    The first step to feeling better is telling someone you trust. This could be about how you’re feeling or what support you need while you or a loved one recover from Long Covid. No matter how small your worry might seem, it’s important to talk to someone about it. We have tips that can help you start that conversation.

  • Give yourself time to recover

    Recovering from Long Covid can take time. It’s normal to feel frustrated, anxious and down when you want to get back to your way of living. However, pushing yourself to do too much can prolong recovery and it’s important to take it slow. This may feel easier said than done, but it’s important not to put too much pressure on yourself to ‘get back to normal’.

  • Stick to a daily routine

    Developing a daily routine can help you during times of uncertainty. It’s important to factor in sleep, activity and rest. The activity should be manageable and something that doesn’t make your symptoms worse. It’s important to listen to your body and rest when you need to. Whatever the activity, make sure it’s something you enjoy and look forward to.

A mother sitting against a wall talking to her children with her arms around them

Long Covid Kids

  • Long Covid Kids is a UK-based, international charity for families, children and young people living with Long Covid. 

    They represent and support young people and the parents and caregivers that look after them. If you and your family are struggling with Long Covid, find out more about symptoms and support available on their website.

Tips for coping in self-isolation

Whether it’s as part of a national lockdown, or you’re quarantining for another reason, self-isolating can be really difficult. It’s normal to feel anxious, down, frustrated – or even just bored. It can be helpful to remember that isolation is temporary, and it won’t be like this forever. Each day that passes you’re a day closer to being out of isolation!

Below are some things you can do to keep yourself occupied in lockdown or self-isolation.

  • Learn a language: If you want to use this time to learn a language or brush up on your language skills, there are lots of resources available online. We like Duolingo and Drops, which both help you get to grips with the basics of a number of languages with fun games, and can both be downloaded as smartphone apps.
  • Learn something new: If you fancy learning something new, FutureLearn has a number of courses available, including many free courses - you can learn about anything from history, to psychology to science!
  • Try some indoor exercise: If you want to get a bit of exercise from the comfort of your home, Joe Wicks, a fitness trainer, is uploading home workouts every day, which are all available on YouTube.
  • Practise mindfulness and meditation: You could also use the time to practise mindfulness. Apps like Calm and Headspace offer loads of guided meditations. We also have a blog from Rachel, 17, on how she practises mindfulness for her mental health.

For more tips for looking after your mental health while self-isolating visit our blog:

A boy sitting alone on the end of his bed and appearing deep in thought.
I am managing my anxiety using creativity. I’ve got back into painting and drawing. I am also continuing meditation.
Jacob, YoungMinds Activist
Two young people sit on a sofa with the person on the left putting an arm around the other. They both are looking at each other while talking.
While the pandemic may leave us feeling out of control, a great way to combat this is to focus on things that you can control.
Elsie, 17
A girl sits on the end of her bed while looking at her laptop.
I think that it’s important to recognise when you are having a down day and accept that this will happen from time to time.
Laura, 21

Tips and advice from young people

Read these tips from young people on coping with self-isolation and lockdown:

  • If you find yourself feeling down during self-isolation, it can be very easy to slip into the mindset that you are alone, but this isn’t the case.
    Laura, 21
  • Of course I’m scared, but with courage and support from others I’ll get there and so will you.
    Fatimah, 17
  • A lot of people are finding things tricky at the moment, and allowing myself to recognise that these are difficult times for everyone and that it’s okay to struggle has really helped my anxiety surrounding this situation.
    Madeleine, 19
  • Your wellbeing is always the most important thing to take care of, particularly at times like this. It is okay to be upset now but remember that we’re all in this together, and there are always going to be people who will listen and who you can talk to.
    Elsa, 18
  • As hard as it can be when you have no deadlines, it is important to try and keep a regular routine.
    Dhyana, 18
  • This is only temporary and you will get through this.
    Gigi, 25
  • Talking to my family about my worries has been really helpful – they’ve supported me a lot during the pandemic and I’m really grateful to have them in my life.
    Katie, 16
  • You may feel alone but you are not; there are people standing beside you who have your back, even if they’re standing beside you in silence.
    Kaitlyn, 16
  • Remember that the world will eventually return to normal and this is not forever. In the meantime, keep celebrating your daily successes, remember that you’re doing your best and don’t feel guilty about that.
    Mary, 19
  • There is no ‘right’ way to feel or behave in this situation, so be kind to yourself.
    Jess, 16

School and Covid-19

A group of students wearing school uniform sit at their desks in a classroom and write in their textbooks.

After so long studying from home, it’s only natural for school to feel a bit strange, even if you’ve been back for a while. Everyone adapts to things at a different pace – there is no “right” way to feel.

If you're worried about catching Covid-19, remember that everyone is doing their best to prevent that from happening, and your school wouldn't have been able to reopen if it wasn't safe.

You may have found it hard to readjust after studying from home for so long. You deserve to feel safe, so if you find school difficult for any reason, it’s important to speak to an adult you trust so that they can help.

Whatever you’re struggling with, visit our guide with advice and tips for coping with problems at school.

Problems at school

Grief and Covid-19

Illustration to show that we grow around our grief. There are three jars of the same size on the first row. Each jar contains a ball which gets smaller in size from left to right. Below are three more jars that get bigger from left to right, but the balls stay the same size.

Post credit: Dr Caroline Leaf

"People tend to believe that grief shrinks over time. What really happens is that we grow around our grief."

Three jars of the same size sit in a row. Each jar contains a ball which gets smaller in size from left to right. The text underneath reads: "People tend to believe that grief shrinks over time."

Below that there are three more jars each with a ball inside. These jars get progressively bigger from left to right, but each of the balls is the same size. The text underneath reads: "What really happens is that we grow around our grief."

Dealing with loss is difficult and there is no right way to react when someone dies. If you have lost someone during the Covid-19 pandemic, it may feel particularly hard to cope with if you weren’t able to see them before they passed, or you weren’t able to attend a funeral or memorial service.

If this is the case, you might find it helpful to think of your own way you can mark their life, such as creating a memory box, writing down your thoughts and memories of them, or lighting a candle and having a time of silence.

For more tips and advice on dealing with grief and loss, visit our guide.

Grief and loss
My suggestion for how to start a conversation around grief and loss is that there's no wrong way to do it.
Grief unsurprisingly put my life on pause, but now, I have slowly gathered the courage to press play.

Get help now

See below for a list of organisations and helpline services that have information to support you.

  • The Mix

    Free, short-term online counselling for young people aged 25 or under. Their website also provides lots of information and advice about mental health and wellbeing. 

    Email support is available via their online contact form.

    They have a free 1-2-1 webchat service available during opening hours.

    Opening times:
    4pm - 11pm, Monday - Friday
  • Childline

    If you’re under 19 you can confidentially call, chat online or email about any problem big or small.

    Sign up for a free Childline locker (real name or email address not needed) to use their free 1-2-1 counsellor chat and email support service.

    Can provide a BSL interpreter if you are deaf or hearing-impaired.

    Hosts online message boards where you can share your experiences, have fun and get support from other young people in similar situations.

    Opening times:
  • Boloh

    Provides advice, and mental health and practical support to asylum seekers across the UK.

    Webchat service available during opening hours.

    Opening times:
    10am - 8pm, Monday - Friday; 10am - 3pm on Saturdays and Sundays
  • NHS Urgent Mental Health Helpline (England only)

    Offers mental health support and advice, help to speak to a mental health professional, and can arrange an assessment to help decide on the best course of care.

    Opening times:

Whether you love the page or think something is missing, we appreciate your feedback. It all helps us to support more young people with their mental health.

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