ChatHealth -Text a School Nurse!

ChatHealth is a fantastic new service for children and young people who live in Hampshire and aged 11 to 19 years. If they are worried about their health or have health related questions they can text the school nursing team on 07507 332160. They will receive a reply that includes signposting to additional services.

This service is available Monday to Fridays 08.30 to 16.30, including the school holidays (but not Bank Holidays). If a child or young person messages outside these times they will receive a message directing them to other sources of support. The ChatHealth Nurses will reply to their message during opening times.

Chat Health poster option 4 (your body)

Children and young people might want to text about a range of issues. Some of these might include:

  • Relationships
  • Weight
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Drugs
  • Smoking
  • Stress
  • Alcohol
  • Self-harm
  • or questions about their body

To text this service, they need to send their message to – 07507332160

The ChatHealth website (click here) offers some additional information about the service including a disclaimer that reads:

We do not usually inform your parents, teachers or anyone else if you contact the school nurse. We might inform someone if we were concerned about your safety, but we would usually speak to you first. Your messages are stored and can be seen by other healthcare staff who follow the same confidentiality rules. We aim to reply to you within one working day and you should get an immediate bounce-back to confirm we received your text. Texts will not be seen outside of normal working hours. If you need help before you hear back from us, contact a member of school staff or your doctor. Our text number does not receive voice calls or MMS picture messages. Prevent the school nurse from sending messages to you by texting STOP to our number. Please respect your schools mobile phone policy. Messages are charged at your usual rate.”

 

Working Memory and Anxiety

It is suggested, in an article for the BPS Digest, that anxiety can upset the brain’s balance between ‘focus’ and ‘vigilance’. That control of what to pay attention to is sacrificed at the “expense of worrisome thoughts” and a quick response to potential danger.  The article cites a paper published in Biological Psychology that tested whether computer-based working memory training could reduce anxiety. The small number of participants in this study make it difficult to judge how long the benefits would last or whether there is generalizability of the results to the wider population. The authors suggest that their study outcomes are “proof of principle”.

What are your thoughts? Comment below.

Sari, B., Koster, E., Pourtois, G., & Derakshan, N. (2016). Training working memory to improve attentional control in anxiety: A proof-of-principle study using behavioral and electrophysiological measures Biological Psychology DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2015.09.008

Mindfulness & Meditation for children

There appears to be a real buzz on social media and the news at the moment about mindfulness and meditation for children. Yet, social media does not always provide the full picture and you may be left wondering what the research evidence says about the effectiveness of these activities.

Greenberg & Harris published an article reviewing the research that was available in 2011. At this time, they stated that the enthusiasm for promoting ‘contemplative practices’ (such as mindfulness) outweighed the evidence supporting them. But also stated that “interventions that nurture mindfulness in children and youths may be a feasible, and effective, method of building resilience…” In 2015, Schonert-Reichl and colleagues studied the impact of a mindfulness programme on children’s cognitive and social emotional development using a randomised control trial with ninety nine 9-11 year olds . They found that children who received the mindfulness program improved their scores in cognitive control, stress physiology, empathy, perspective-taking, emotional control, optimism, self-concept and mindfulness as well as decreasing their scores in depression, peer rated aggression measures.

Although the outcomes of this research are positive, an updated review article would appear to be helpful in synthesising all the new research studies carried out since 2011 to better enable teachers, school staff, parents, educational psychologists and other professionals to fully understand the potential impact of mindfulness and meditation based interventions. It does not yet seem clear whether the benefits outweigh the risks and costs, or what the long term impact is for children receiving such an intervention.

Please comment below with your thoughts and links to further research that you may have come across.

 

Free mindfulness and meditation resources for children:

 

Fun, interactive games from the Kids Activity Blog:

  • Blowing bubbles. Have your children focus on taking in a deep, slow breath, and exhaling steadily to fill the bubble. Encourage them to pay close attention to the bubbles as they form, detach, and pop or float away.
  • Pinwheels. Use the same tactics from blowing bubbles to encourage mindful attention on the pinwheels.
  • Playing with balloons. Tell your children that the aim of this game is to keep the balloon off the ground, but have them move slowly and gently. You can tell them to pretend the balloon is very fragile if that helps.
  • Texture bag. Place several small, interestingly shaped or textured objects in a bag, and have each child reach in to touch an object, one at a time, and describe what they are touching. Make sure they don’t take the object out of the bag, forcing them to use only their sense of touch to explore the object.
  • Blindfolded taste tests. Use a blindfold for each child and have them experience eating a small food, like a raisin or a cranberry, as if it was their first time eating it.

 

Citations

Greenberg, T.M. & Harris, R.A (2011) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1750-8606.2011.00215.x/full

Schonert-Reichl. KA et al., (2015)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25546595

Meditation? Mindfulness? I want to try!

Has your social media feeds been full of words and phrases like ‘guided meditation’, ‘meditation’ and ‘mindfulness’? If it sounds like something you would like to try out, the Calm App is a great place to start. The app has plenty of free resources to get you going including:

  • Short (approx 10 mins each) guided meditations (for stress, anxiety, everyday calm and lots more)
  • Calming playlists to use as a background to whatever activity you are doing (perhaps yoga?)
  • Brilliant sleep stories including a free story narrated by Steven Fry.

Click the link below to explore further. You do not need to purchase the app to use the free resources.

www.calm.com

Have you used this app (or any other similar app) before? Has it been useful for you? Comment below with your thoughts.