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With the new COVID-19 variant at large in the community and numbers amongst the cohort of young  people steadily increasing, more and more families are finding themselves in isolation (including a few from haven HQ!).

Thanks to this, many young people are experiencing feelings of fear, stress and anxiety about being unwell and being isolated from their friends and possibly even family members.

For advice, we turned to Ashley de Silva, CEO of the online mental health service ReachOut.

“If your teen returns a positive PCR test or RAT, or if they’re a close contact and seven days of isolation is on the cards, caring for their health is vital and that includes their mental health,” says Ashley.

Thankfully, there are many ways to support your teen and look after their mental health and wellbeing if they do have COVID-19 or become a close contact and find themselves isolated from friends, family and the things they enjoy doing.

Just take 19-year-old Kody, who says, “There’s not much I can do to change the situation, but I can control my perspective and how I deal with it. I also make sure to talk to people; it’s such a relief to know that others are going through the same stuff as I am.”

In the midst of all this uncertainty, ReachOut has put together a seven-step guide to supporting your teen, caring for their mental health and wellbeing (and yours), and getting through COVID-19 isolation one day at a time.

Show some self-compassion

Importantly, you can’t pour from an empty cup so go easy on yourself. By making sure your own emotional health is in good shape, you’ll be better equipped to  support your teen.  

Practice self-care

Encourage your teen to make time for the things they love, whether that be  mindfulness, getting enough sleep, listening to music, baking or hanging out with their pet. This might also mean practicing positive self-talk or finding ways to manage feelings of stress and anxiety such as breathing exercises, making a cuppa or taking a shower.  

Pace yourself

COVID-19 will affect everyone differently so remind your teen to take things at a pace that feels comfortable to them. Being unwell and isolated might impact their energy levels and mood so it’s important to not put any pressure on them.  

Log out to chill out

Isolation means your teen is probably going to be spending more time  online and scrolling through their social media feed. It’s likely that they’ll see a post or two that makes them feel sad about being stuck inside so suggest that they turn off their notifications for a period of time and reduce their social media use.  

Create a small, achievable routine

Think about creating a small daily routine of small, achievable goals as a family – even if you might be physically apart in different rooms. This could be anything from reading a chapter of their book, connecting with friends, gaming, watching some Netflix or making a nutritious meal.  

Check in

Sometimes checking in with your teen is exactly what they need. Ask them how they’re feeling, lend an ear and encourage them to take a breath and reflect on how they’re feeling in that moment. ReachOut’s Checking in with yourself quiz is a good place to start.  

Seek help

Your teen might feel more comfortable talking to a mental health professional to get  some extra support. There are also helplines available including Lifeline (13 11 14) or Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800) if your teen is feeling distressed and in urgent need of help. 

For more information about ReachOut, visit www.reachout.com/parents. Parents can also access ReachOut’s online communities to connect with others for peer support.

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haven is all about family, life and style in Brisbane's inner city suburbs, the Gold Coast, south to Byron Bay. We have been keeping parents in the know for over eight years, with fun, fresh and helpful stories that they can take tips from or treasure in their own library.