COVID-19: Information for our 11-19 year old patient

We’re sure you are aware that Covid-19 can infect and affect anyone, of any age and in any state of fitness or health, sometimes with serious consequences. Thankfully, for the vast majority of children and young people, Covid-19 is not a serious illness. But the impact of the pandemic on all of you has been enormous in other ways – your schooling, your friendships, your sports and exercise, your home life. It’s not surprising that many young people’s physical health, their mental and emotional health, and their wellbeing have all suffered over the months and months of Covid restrictions that you’ve all been living through.
As a practice, we wanted to take this opportunity to tell you that we are still here, able and willing to help you with your medical needs, and to advise and support you if you are concerned about your mental and emotional health.
We are trying to become as IT savvy as many of you already are, mainly doing telephone / video consultations and starting to use texts and e-mails.
We are also able to still see you face to face but only if this is essential. Currently, we will need to speak / video consult with you first as the best way to keep you safe and maintain your health.
We would also like to provide you with some additional information by answering some questions from young people on their healthcare and about COVID-19. We hope that our answers may help you cope with the restrictions that lockdown or self-isolation may have on your overall well-being.

Q1. Is it OK to be worried about what’s happening?

These are truly extra-ordinary times where information and issues are changing extremely rapidly. It is not surprising that each day can feel totally different to the next and this is unsettling. What’s happening in the world right now can feel daunting, unable to make plans even for the immediate future – it’s very normal to feel anxious and unsure about things.
Maybe your exams have been cancelled, or your first year at university has come to a sudden halt, or school has been closed for the foreseeable future? Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed, unproductive, anxious or hopeless, your feelings are justified – you are not alone in feeling this way.

Q2. Can I call to speak to a doctor if I am worried about my health?

If you are feeling very overwhelmed and are struggling to function normally, there is help available. Please contact us – we are still open for business. Calls may take a little longer to answer on our switchboard but we will endeavour to manage and direct your call to the most appropriate person to help with your medical query / need.
Call us on 020 7428 5700

Q3. Will my contact I make be confidential?

As a registered patient of ours, you are entitled to receive medical support, care and assistance from our staff. You do not need permission from your parents or guardian to make an appointment or chat to one of our doctors or nurses. Please be reassured that contact and discussions with any of our staff is treated with confidence, as will the opportunity to speak or consult with one of our clinical staff.

Q4. I have read that I could e-mail the doctor with a question, is this possible?

We are now operating ‘e-consult.’ This means you can send us a question or concern and we will get back to you, on the same day, with a response. This is new for us and you will need to register to be able to use the service. If you are under 16, your parents will need to register on your behalf, but then you will be able to send a request yourself, and receive a reply back to your given e-mail.

Q5. Will you have a record of my mobile or e-mail address if you need to contact me?

With the increased role of technology in all we do now, it is very important that we have a current mobile and e-mail address for you, so that, with your permission, we can text or contact you directly. We may have an old contact or a parent’s mobile number attached to your records so to update your details would help us ensure we can keep in contact with you appropriately and directly when you need advice or support.
You can update your contact details by clicking here.

Q6: I am a young carer, should I let you know about this?

Absolutely – yes please. Whether you have been a carer of others in your family for a while or just recently because of COVID-19 please contact the surgery so we can make a note of this. If you are struggling or having difficulties with your caring responsibilities or if you have any questions, we would be happy to try and help.

Q7. Social Media is giving me mixed messages and confusing me, how do I know what is true and what is false?

Sometimes feeling stressed or anxious can be related to seeing lots of media coverage and new stories about the impact of COVID-19. At the moment, there is a lot of coverage from all media and although it is important to stay informed, consider taking a break if you feel things are getting on top of you. Maybe you should stop looking at twitter? A horrendous thing to suggest, I know. However some days, social media might be your only source of news and information. While some of what you read is trustworthy, a lot of it isn’t, and it’s put out there to scare and confuse you. Consuming so much of this information at once can be damaging to an already anxious brain and it’s important to know when to give yourself a break from it. Social media can also be fantastic, try to use it for positive and upbeat interactions with friends and family.

Q8: So where should I get my advice and information about about COVID-19?

Gwyneth Paltrow and Kourtney Kardashian will have you believing that a shot of apple cider vinegar every morning and a $200 face mask will cure coronavirus. Donald Trump stated that the USA would have sorted Coronavirus out by Easter. These are unrealistic, not scientifically proven and just not true. Only take advice from trusted government and health service websites. These have all the latest facts and figures to give consistent advice on how to prevent spreading, catching it and what to do if you think you have the Coronavirus.

Q9: How can I occupy myself to avoid boredom and feeling even worse about things?

Despite the loss of normal routine and activities, try to develop and implement a new routine that provides a balance of several different activities and interactions with others. At times like these, it can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour, which can make you feel worse. Simple things you can do to stay mentally and physically active during this time include:

  • Wake up relatively early – (annoying but it does help). Lying in bed until early afternoon will drain your energy levels and crush productivity. Set a nice alarm to wake up to and allow yourself more time to get ready and start the day properly.
  • Stay connected to your friends and family, but don’t rely just on texting, as at least an audio-visual catch up is much more rewarding.
  • Social media can be an excellent way to keep in touch with your friends and family. However, you should be mindful of your use of social media. Use it to promote positive interactions, and put your device away if it starts to negatively affect your mood. Many smartphones allow you to set time limits for certain apps such as Facebook or Instagram.
  • It is important to maintain, where possible, some sort of daily routine. You should vary what you put into your routine to keep things different and interesting but try and include key elements consistently.
  • Make a to do list (or schedule / rota) with reasonable and specific things included. Finalise your schedule / rota the night before so you are ready and prepared for the day ahead. Include spending time doing things you enjoy as well as things you need to do:
    – Time to eat (breakfast, lunch and inner)
    – Time to network chat and socialise, social media / gaming (IT based)
    – Time to do work, study, homework, coursework, learn, research
    – Time for exercise
    – Time for relaxing, personal downtime (non IT based)
    – Time to spend with family
    – Time to spend doing something fun / different / activity based
    – Time to spend with family
    – Time to spend doing something fun / different / activity based
  • Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink enough water, and try to avoid smoking, alcohol and recreational drugs.
  • If needing to socially isolate, spend time with the windows open to let in fresh air, arranging space to sit with a nice view if possible and get some natural sunlight. Get out into the garden or sit on your doorstep if you can, keeping a distance of at least 2 metres from others.
  • If you don’t need to isolate, you should try and get out of the house to do your daily exercise (walk, jog, run or bike-ride) for an hour, keeping your social distance to at least 2 metres when outside.
  • Look to introduce fun activities for you and the family
    – Themed meals
    – Special movie / Netflix nights
    – Quizzes and competitions
    – Kitchen dancing / Karaoke
    – Zoom/FT friends other family to involve them too
  • Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial for feeling emotionally healthy the next day. We all feel better after a good night’s sleep.
Q10: What is out there to help me cope with this pandemic?

Here are some young person friendly websites, apps and resources focused on helping you navigate through these uncertain times as well as supporting your emotional and physical well-being.

UK information websites on COVID-19

Websites offering links to a number of Young People friendly resources

  • Anna Freud (Links to number of wellbeing resources, list of sources of help for those with urgent needs)
  • Childline (Help and advice on a wide range of issues)
  • Footsteps Teeside (Coping with isolation, mental health & wellbeing. Resources peer reviewed by student Hollie Smith)
  • Health for Young People (Good links to advice & information on sexual health, mental health and long term conditions)
  • Healthy Young Minds (Herts based, Has links to local and national advice and sources)
  • The Mix (Advice and support for the Under 25’s)
  • Young People’s (Wide range of links to valuable resources)

Websites offering advice on keeping fit, at home

Young people friendly websites offering advice, applications and resources on mental health and well-being

Please keep safe and healthy