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Safe from Harm

European Jamboree 2020 – Looking after our mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic: advice from the Jamboree Safe from Harm Department

Times of great uncertainty can have a really big effect on our mental health and wellbeing. The current Covid-19 pandemic is having a huge impact on our day to day lives so it’s important we think about how to look after ourselves.

How we talk about Covid-19 to our adult Jamboree colleagues and participants can help them manage their feelings and reactions towards the coronavirus crisis. To assist you with this we have put together some key messages and online resources from a range of organisations. We would encourage you to also look locally and see what resources are available to share in your own countries. Some are aimed at adults; others are to help adults communicate with young people; and some are for young people of various ages.

Remember that everyone has mental health and will experience the current situation in a unique way. Everyone is at a different place in their experience of the crisis, from having to manage some inconvenience through to dealing with bereavement.

When you talk to people, including young people:

  • Don’t try to shield them from the facts. They will find out somehow, so be honest and direct.
  • Start by asking them how they feel, what they know, what they have heard. Listen to them, don’t jump in with your own opinions. Let them know it’s OK not to feel OK. It’s normal right now.
  • Answer questions in an age-appropriate manner. You don’t need all the answers but just talking will help them feel calmer.
  • Give practical advice about things they can control – hand washing (make sure they know how to do it properly), staying 2 metres apart from people they don’t live with, keeping in touch by methods other than physical contact, etc.
  • Share the key messages below in an age appropriate way.
  • You are not a counsellor and that’s fine. If someone is showing signs of real mental health problems such as acute anxiety or depression, advise them to seek medical help, or talk to their parents about doing so.
  • If talking to someone has upset you, talk about it to someone you trust. Don’t bottle it up. You need to take care of your own mental health too.

Some key messages are:

  • Try your best to stay connected with others.
  • Help and support each other safely. Helping others also makes us feel better about ourselves.
  • It’s OK not to be OK. Talk about your worries to people you trust. This can help troubles feel less unmanageable.
  • Your physical health is important too. This includes what you eat, your sleep and your activity.
  • Focus on what you can change and what you can do right now. This is a global challenge that we all care about but getting consumed by the scale of it can make us worry more. Focusing on what you can do right now is one way of helping reduce these worries.
  • Sometimes we get overwhelmed by the amount of news we see and how scary this is. It’s important to get the facts but ration the amount to what works for you.
  • This is a new normal for us all. It will take time to adjust. When you are able, try getting into a routine. Helpful ways to use your time include doing things you enjoy, learning a new skill or catching up (virtually!) with friends you’ve not spoken to in a while.
  • If you’re struggling for things to do or feeling down about your current situation consider what you did before Covid-19 and what gave you meaning. For example, Scouts, family or hobbies. Think about what you can still do with these meaningful activities. Perhaps have a video call with your troop or join in with the JOTI or another online Scouting event.
  • Take time out. It’s OK to not do everything at once or follow what everyone else is doing on social media. Try to find time to relax. Enjoy nature as much as possible in your circumstances.

Many of us will encounter illness or bereavement over the coming months or may already have experienced this. Take time for yourself and reach out for support from your Scouting family. There is some helpful advice on bereavement below.

General Resources

Papyrus  –

Mental Health Foundation –


Stress and coping. US Centre for Disease Control –

Helping people with existing mental health conditions: –

How to talk to young people about Covid-19

Talking to young children about coronavirus –

Ideas for how to answer your children’s questions –

Dave the Dog –

National Autistic Society –

Helping children cope with emergencies –

How teenagers can protect their mental health during coronavirus –


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