Topics for this month:

Tips for coping with mask/face covering anxiety – Mind Charity:

Some of us may find masks/face coverings very hard to cope with, especially if you have a mental health problem. You might not ever feel totally comfortable with masks, but here are some things that you could try to help:

  • Get some fresh air outside before and after you wear your mask/face covering
  • Do something to relax you before and after you wear a mask/covering
  • Choose a face covering that hangs down your neck rather than fitting around your jaw
  • Keep your body as cool as possible. For example, wear loose fitting clothes
  • Add a comfortable scent to your face covering. This might be a few drops of lavender oil, your own perfume/aftershave, or a smell that reminds you of someone else

You can also experiment with different fabric types:

  • You could try making a mask from an old t-shirt that doesn’t bother you to touch.
  • Experiment with different ways to secure your mask. Some fit behind the ears, some tie behind the head.

Anxiety around other people wearing masks:

If people in masks make you feel uneasy or afraid:

  • Try to pay extra attention to your non-human surroundings. This might be trees, traffic or the sounds and smells you notice. Balancing what you’re taking in with other things that are unchanged might help things to feel less abnormal.
  • Take a distraction out with you. For example, listen to music or podcasts through headphones, or call someone you enjoy chatting to.

Mask exceptions for mental health reasons:

  • Don’t assume that someone not wearing a mask is being ‘selfish’. Many people are exempt from wearing masks/coverings and it might not be immediately obvious why.
  • It can be difficult to judge if you’re unwell enough to have a reasonable excuse for not wearing a mask, but remember, you are the expert on your own experience. You might decide that you have a legitimate reason for being exempt.

For more information on mask exemptions for mental health reasons, please visit:

Depression during the pandemic – Mind Charity:

In the current crisis, many of us are experiencing depression for the first time, or having stronger symptoms. Everyone’s experience of depression will vary, but you might feel:

  • Isolated or unable to relate to other people
  • Down, upset or tearful
  • Difficulty taking pleasure in life, especially if you can’t do some of the activities you enjoy
  • Restless, bored or tired because your usual routines have had to change
  • Hopeless or despairing about coronavirus
  • A sense of unreality, especially if your life has changed significantly during the pandemic
  • Guilty, worthless and down on yourself
  • Empty or numb
  • Low self-confidence or self-esteem
  • Physical aches and pains with no obvious physical cause
  • Difficulty speaking, thinking clearly or making decisions
  • Suicidal

It is possible to recover from depression and many people do – especially after accessing support. Your symptoms may return sometimes, but when you’ve discovered self-care techniques and treatments work best for you, you’re more likely to feel confident in managing them.

For more information, please visit:

Advice on coping with furlough and a mental health problem from the Mind Charity:

Have a routine and try to stick to it as much as possible. Some ideas/suggestions:

  • Go to bed and get up at the same time every day
  • Eat healthily and drink regularly – it’s all too easy to eat too much or to skip meals whilst on lockdown. It can be helpful to limit caffeine as it can lead to manic symptoms
  • Stay in touch with people. It can feel easier to self-isolate when you’re struggling but checking in with a loved one could help to brighten your day, and theirs too!
  • Have a 5 minute dance anywhere in the house to your favourite music. You might feel silly to begin with but it will help to lift your mood and energy levels

Bereavement help and support

Cruse Bereavement Care is the largest national charity for bereaved people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Cruse offer face-to-face, group, free phone helpline, email and website support to people after someone close to them has passed away and works to enhance society’s care of bereaved people.

There are no set stages or phases of grief which everyone goes through, but some feelings are very common.

In the early days you may feel shocked and numb, or you may feel nothing at all. The pain can be overwhelming, and you may experience waves of intense feelings or mood swings. It is common to find yourself going over and over events.

You may find yourself searching for the person who has died. It is normal to see the person, feel their presence or talk to them. You may feel guilty about things which happened before the death, or about how you feel now. You may feel very angry with yourself or others, or with the person who has died. You may have trouble sleeping or need to sleep more than usual. You may feel sick or panicky. As time goes on you may have strong feelings of longing, sadness, loneliness and sometimes hopelessness and fear about the future.

It is therefore important to look after yourself if you are experiencing grief following a bereavement.

Treat yourself gently, take one day at a time and give yourself permission to grieve. Don’t feel guilty or weak if you are struggling to cope, or need help.

Talk to someone talking can be really helpful, often family or friends can help. You might also be able to talk to someone in your community, and talk to your GP if your health is suffering.

Diet and sleep is easier said than done in these circumstances, but try to eat properly and get enough rest (even if you can’t sleep). Routine can help eating, sleeping and connecting with others. Exercise even a short walk to get some fresh air can really help.

If you are struggling with bereavement and would like to talk to someone about how you are feeling, you can call the Cruse Freephone number on 0808 808 1677 and a specially trained bereavement counsellor will be able to help and assist you. The helpline is available Monday- Friday 9.30am-5pm and weekends 10am-2pm.

If you would rather get bereavement help online you can use Cruse Chat which is a free online service and live chat programme available Monday-Friday 9am-9pm to anyone over the age of 18. Cruse Chat is a third party service provided to Cruse by GriefChat.

Young people and children’s understanding of grief and their reactions will depend on their age. A very young child might not understand that death is permanent. An older child or teenager may use denial to help them cope.

A young person may seem to dip in and out of grief – this doesn’t mean they do not care.

You can best support a child or young person, by telling them what has happened using clear language. Check their understanding, and let them talk and ask questions.

Reassure them that they are still loved, and that it is ok to let them see that you are sad too. Let them join in with funerals and memorials, but be led by them. Talk to their school or College and make sure other adults involved in their care know what has happened.

Click here a leaflet on bereavement

To find out more about Cruse and the services they provide please access the websites using the links below.

Once you make contact with Cruse they will be able to assess what care and support you need, this may also include bereavement therapy treatment, referral specialist counselling and psychotherapy.

For more information visit:

There is also a sister website for young people suffering bereavement under 18

Smart Speaker Safety
Smart speakers have grown in popularity among many households in the UK, with just over 1-in-5 UK households currently estimated to have a smart speaker. A smart speaker is used for things such as listening to music, setting reminders as well as asking everyday questions.

As with a lot of internet-ready devices, there also comes concerns over privacy and how to stay safe when using smart speakers within the home.

For the three main smart speakers currently available, we have provided details of their parental restriction and safety settings:

Amazon Echo

  • You can turn off in-app voice purchasing, or set a code to stop children ordering things from Amazon.
  • You can easily restrict access via parental controls to inappropriate content, like songs with curse words by creating an age-appropriate account for your children.
  • Turn off or restrict ‘drop in’. This feature allows users to drop into a video call with someone else’s Echo.
  • Activate the ‘Do Not Disturb’ option. This would be most suitable for when your family is sleeping.
  • Alexa can be asked to delete everything that has been said today. If you want to delete data older than 1 day, simply do so via the App, where you can also adjust settings to automatically delete voice recordings every 3 or 18 months.

Google Nest 

  • Users can set up Family Link. This is done by setting up another account for your child. This will require another android device, but will be controlled from yours. Your child’s voice will be added to your Nest.
  • Make sure to use Google’s Digital Wellbeing tool. This allows users to set up filters for music, video and assistant queries.
  • You can turn off Google’s Pay Assistant to prevent any unwanted purchases.
  • You can ask to delete all voice recordings on the Nest via the Google Assistant app. You can also adjust settings to automatically delete voice recordings every 3 or 18 months.

Apple HomePod

  • You can stop your child from accessing explicit content.
  • Users might also want to lock personal requests. This is what Apple calls the ability to send and read texts, add reminders and create notes. This will prevent anyone sending messages from your Apple device.
  • You can prevent children from making in-app purchases
  • You can ask to delete all voice recordings on the HomePod. Apple will keep recordings from your Speaker for up to 2 years, but they will not be assigned to you as an individual, rather they are listed as random and are kept to help with developing Siri

SafeToNet app
The COVID-19 pandemic, the related lockdown and closure of schools has increased the amount of time children spend online. This time is often spent without immediate supervision, making children more vulnerable to increasing levels of predation and risk online.

As a response, the SafeToNet Foundation is making available 1 million copies of SafeToNet’s safeguarding software free for life to families of the United Kingdom. SafeToNet is an app for parents that helps safeguard their children from online risks like cyberbullying and sexting, whilst respecting the child’s rights to privacy. It also gives children wellbeing exercises to help deal with issues such as stress, fear and anxiety.

Features of the app

To Children:

  • Keeps them safer online whilst respecting their privacy
  • Parents never see what their child is typing
  • The keyboard blocks harmful outgoing messages before the damage is done
  • Gives real-time advice and guidance on cyber-safety topics
  • Provides breathing exercises when signs of anxiety and fear have been detected
  • Audio practices assist with issues of low-self-esteem, bullying, anxiety and more
  • Emotion diary helps children to articulate and analyse their feelings

To Parents:

  • Provides powerful insights into a child’s digital world without snooping or spying
  • Shows the typical moments in a day with the high-risk messages are sent
  • Provides a dynamic safety indicator that shows a child’s proximity to risk
  • A list of the top 5 apps in use by their child where levels of safety can be improved
  • Allows real-time diagnosis of online issues as they arise

Parents have until midnight on the 15th of September to register their details via the link below and until the 30th of September to activate the App on their smartphone or tablet.

Free online training courses:

A reminder to staff, learners and employers that there are a number of free online training courses to access – we have listed some below!

  • An introduction to Infection Prevention and Control
  • Infection Prevention and Control Resource Pack
  • Mental Health and Wellbeing Resource Pack
  • Prepared to save a life
  • Understanding Young Minds
  • Female Genital Mutilation
  • Keep Them Safe: Protecting Children from Child Sexual Exploitation
  • Awareness of Forced Marriage
  • Awareness of Type 1 Diabetes
  • Get Moving, Get Healthy
  • Understanding Animal Welfare in Violent Homes