Staying Sane in the Times of Covid-19

An article by Dr Emma Blake, Consultant Paediatrician, now Chair / Convenor of PMHA

Well, in these crazy times – with universal maelstroms – all of us are trying to cope with our personal whirlpools. Being a front line medic, whilst coping as a “full time” parent and teacher; trying to keep yourself, your kids and everyone else around you sane – it’s not manageable, is it?

I wish I had all the answers. Medice, cura te ipsum. Heal thyself. But no-one knows the cure for Covid-19, no immunisation – even against the anxiety and psychological impact of it. As a paediatrician, mother of four, with “shielded” vulnerable relatives; suddenly homeschooling three children and trying to get a “gap-year” son trapped in Vietnam back to the family;  I, like the rest of us, am trying to juggle all the balls whilst wearing minimal / flimsy PPE.

At the PMHA (Paediatric Mental Health Association) we are trying to find resources to support parents who are doing the best they can to care for their children’s health, education and emotional needs at home. A popular PMHA Facebook post (which has currently reached over 9.6 million people!) suggests taking the pressure off ourselves with regard to home-schooling or children; to try to take the stress out of the situation as much as possible.

Enjoy the time together – “cuddle up and read, read, read” etc. The best way to de-stress kids is to de-stress ourselves (often easier said than done). Obviously older kids (GCSEs and A Levels) need more structured work (thank you teachers!), but the principle is the same – our kids will remember what this felt like at home. They will remember the emotions and relationships.

We are seeing an increase in mental health presentations to paediatric wards – when we are doing our best to keep people safe at home. However, not all young people are safe at home. Abuse is escalating, domestic violence and parental mental health / substance abuse difficulties are worsening. As paediatricians, we need to be more aware of mental health and safeguarding issues, more than ever. The most vulnerable children are more hidden from view – and we are waiting for a tsunami (not only from Covid-19 ventilated elderly – but also young people who have had to cope with the “perfect storm”at home).

In addition to our Facebook page; the PMHA, along with Serena Haywood (St Georges) and Simon Chapman (Kings) have also developed a website – Indoor Explorers – to try to bring together resources to support parents at this difficult time.

If you have any useful resources for parents or professionals at this time – please share them with us at ContactPMHA@gmail.com

Dr Emma Blake,
Child Mental Health & General Paediatric Consultant,
Designated Doctor for Safeguarding Children, Isle of Wight,
Vice Chair PMHA and Chair of Child Mental Health (CSAC) at the RCPCH

Where is the voice of the child in weighing the cost of this pandemic?

Frontline paediatricians have written to the editor of the British Medical Journal, advocating for the rights and safeguarding of children 

“We call upon Government to move quickly and decisively to try and repair the harm suffered by young, vulnerable people during this pandemic. Failure to do so will come at a price too high.”

To read the full text of the letter, click below:

https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m1669/rr-5

Another interesting article in The Guardian

We should be overhauling the school system, not rushing to send children back

By Suzanne Moore on Monday 18th May, 2020.

“The emotional and social development of our children is paramount, not a rushed, unsafe return to constant invigilation.”

Click here to read the whole article:
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/may/18/we-should-be-overhauling-the-school-system-not-rushing-to-send-children-back

Let us know your comments or thoughts …

UNICEF Report: Children in Lockdown – What Coronavirus means for UK children

“Children’s lives have been turned upside down by coronavirus. For some children, with the right support and resources, the situation will
be manageable, but for others the effects of the pandemic will cast a long shadow over their lives. The response to coronavirus already is exposing the fragile situation that many children and young people live in. Hundreds of thousands of children who rely on school, health and social systems and the support of the voluntary sector are being left unprotected as these systems are weakened. Thousands more, unknown to the system, will likely find themselves in need of support over the coming weeks, but as yet remain invisible to authorities…

Click here to read full report.

The PMHA will be at the Royal College of Paediatrics conference (28th April)

A short post to say that the PMHA is going to be at the annual Royal College of Paediatrics meeting on Tuesday 28th April 2020.

The PMHA session is linked with the British Association of Paediatricians in Audiology (BAPA).

The theme of the PMHA / BAPA joint session is ‘difference and self’. Sound intriguing? Why not come along to find out more.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Save the date: PMHA Annual Winter Meeting 2021

We had a really great annual meeting this year and are starting the ball rolling for next years meeting…

The 2021 meeting will take place on Thursday 28th and Friday 29th of January, once again at Highgate House.

So whether you came to this years meeting and enjoyed it, or missed out, make sure you save the date.

This year, for the first time, the meeting featured poster presentations from trainees. Everybody agreed these were a great addition and we will definitely continue to do this next time.

If anybody has any suggestions for topics or speakers for the next meeting, please don’t hesitate to click here to get in touch.






Event: CoramBAAF Health Group Conference

VENUE:
The Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Coram Campus
41 Brunswick Square, London WC1N 1AZ

DATE:
Friday 3rd July, 2020

TIMES:
Registration: 8.30am-9.25am
Conference: 9.25am-5.15pm
CoramBAAF Health Group Annual Meeting: 9.00am-9.25am. 

WHO SHOULD ATTEND:
Agency medical advisers, named and designated doctors and nurses, GPs, health visitors, school nurses, midwives and specialist nurses for looked after children, health professionals for disabled children, designated heads and teachers for looked after children, social workers, children’s guardians, adoption and fostering panel members, independent reviewing officers, mental health workers, psychiatrists and psychologists working with looked after and adopted children. 

NETWORKING DINNER – Thursday 2 July 2020
Delegates will have the option of joining colleagues the day before for the networking dinner at 8pm in central London. 

FEES:
> Full or associate CoramBAAF member (£185 + £37 VAT) Total Fee £222
> Nurse, student or individual CoramBAAF member  (£135 + £27 VAT) Total Fee – £162
> Adoptive parent or foster carer (£135 + £27 VAT) Total Fee £162
> Non-member (£250 + £50 VAT) Total Fee £300
* Concessions for care leavers and adopted young people available by negotiation

CONTACT:
For further details contact the Conference Team on 020 7520 7520 or email conferences@corambaaf.org.uk

Do you remember last year’s PMHA annual meeting?

If you remember a particularly interesting presentation or want to refresh your memory, you can now find all the presentations from last years meeting on the ‘Resources‘ page of this website.

This year’s meeting is just weeks away!

This year, Dr Karen Street, representative for Child Mental Health at RCPCH, will be there during the whole meeting. This is a great opportunity to shape the future for multi-disciplinary work.

The RCPCH drew up a Manifesto before the recent election. The RCPCH asked the new government to :

Adopt a whole systems approach to both the prevention of mental illness and the promotion of good wellbeing. This should include a commitment to providing training for all child health professionals to support children and young people that present with mental health problems in non-mental health settings.

Click here to read the whole manifesto.

*** Also new for the annual meeting this year – there will be a wide range of poster presentations by trainees covering some really interesting topics ***

Click here to book

The meeting is fast approaching!
(Thursday 23rd and Friday 24th January)
Spread the word! Don’t miss out!