Life

Ask The Expert: Could counselling help my child's lockdown stress?

If children are anxious about the pandemic, a mental health expert tells Lisa Salmon how therapy could help...

Lockdown has been hard for many youngsters to cope with
Lisa Salmon

Q: MY 12-YEAR-old daughter has become increasingly stressed during lockdown. My partner thinks counselling would help, but I'm embarrassed, as I think we should be able to deal with this ourselves. Is counselling really a good option for such a young person?

A: Niki Cooper, clinical director at the children's mental health charity Place2Be (place2be.org.uk), says: "As a parent, it's natural to worry about relying on outside help to support your child – a recent Place2Be survey found nearly a third of parents are embarrassed to seek mental health support for their children.

"You may experience feelings of guilt, thinking you should have the answer, or feel like you should be able to fix any problems they're experiencing.

"But in reality, parents can't be expected to be mental health experts, and it's OK to accept help from someone that is. You haven't failed as a caregiver – asking for help isn't a sign of weakness, in fact it's the opposite.

"Sometimes we need the support of experts for parenting or mental health, just as we would for plumbing or fixing our cars. It's not your job as a parent to have all the answers all the time, but to be there for your child when they need you.

"Counselling gives your child a safe and supportive listening environment to think things through. When a young person takes part in counselling, often counsellors use creative tools, such as art and play, to help children express themselves. It's not all about talking.

"Often the things brought up in sessions can help kick-start conversations with the adults at home, and can be a great tool to break down those barriers and improve continued communication in the family.

"During the pandemic, loneliness and isolation have been common themes for both young people and parents. We all have mental health, and we need to nurture it, just like we nurture our physical health, particularly during these challenging times."

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