Institute of Education


Social, emotional and mental health for families

A helpful guide to focusing on the wellbeing of the whole family during school closures.

Child painting on cardboard. Image: Tatiana Syrikova via Pexels

The question of 'wellbeing' means different things to different families. It might include some or all of the following:

  • Staying healthy: physical exercise and diet
  • Avoiding boredom: activities to keep us entertained 
  • Combatting loneliness: the difficulties associated with being separated from family and friends 
  • Staying mentally healthy: guarding against anxiety, worry and the constant stream of negative news and press. 
  • Anxiety associated with loss of income    
  • Managing relationships: friends and family 
  • Feelings of physical restriction: claustrophobia / sharing a living and working space 
  • Suffering abusive and / or toxic relationships.

Whatever the risk, physical and emotional wellbeing for the whole family is arguably the most important aspect we need to focus on during the challenging weeks ahead.

As the spring break approaches, this may be an appropriate time to put home schooling to one side.

Guides on the wellbeing of the whole family:

Specific wellbeing resources:

See also:

Government guidance

The government have produced guidance for parents and carers on supporting their own, as well as children and young people’s mental health during this period of self-isolation:

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NHS top tips

The NHS has produced very helpful top tips in collaboration with Every Mind Matters to support wellbeing for families.

It offers useful advice on how to keep to a routine and continuing to engage in activities that you all enjoy:

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Mental heath

For any adult concerned about the emotions and behaviour of a child or young person:

Young Minds also has a Covid-19 page with blogs and ideas about support during this time: 

Interesting articles on supporting wellbeing and mental health, particularly around how to have difficult conversations with children about Covid 19:

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Managing anxiety

An interesting short video on managing anxiety and OCD during the pandemic:

Some very useful articles for families in a variety of contexts:

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Pregnancy and young babies

For parents of very young babies, or those who are mid-way through a pregnancy, this may be a particularly worrying time. These organisations offer support to pregnant women and their families:

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Practical advice

Practical advice (and lots of useful links) on managing family wellbeing:

Specific advice for families who have children with sensory processing disorders:

The BBC and National Geographic have a wealth of resources to keep children of all ages entertained:

Specific advice for the whole family: 

Useful blogs on all aspects of family wellbeing:

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Tips for positive mental health and wellbeing for the whole family

  • Limit the news or social media coverage as there is a lot of information and it can be overwhelming.
  • Connect with your friends and loved ones using video messaging, texting and phone calls. 
  • Add self-care for the while family into your daily routine whether it be a meditation, cooking or whatever you all find relaxing.
  • Focus on your emotional and mental health. 
  • Keep busy during quarantine, maybe start a new hobby, make something, or even declutter but don’t put undue stress on yourself. 
  • Share your coping skills with others including your children.
  • Encourage your children to talk about their worries so they are not bottling things up.
  • Create a solid routine that works for you all and allow flexibility when needed.
  • Exercise can be positive for mental health and do what you enjoy.
  • If you enjoy cooking, get in the kitchen and experiment with the ingredients you have.

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Domestic violence

Information about services and refuges in local areas:

The National Domestic Abuse Hotline runs a 24 hour helpline for people at risk of domestic violence: 

  • Hotline: 0808 200 0247 


The overwhelming advice is to do what works for you as a family. Don’t feel pressured by things you feel you should be doing.

Trust your instinct, do what makes your family life feel calmer and happier. And remember, this time will pass.

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