A HEALTH board has launched free online courses to support children and teenagers suffering from anxiety.

NHS Lanarkshire has released two new, free online courses to help young people as the ongoing pandemic and world events are leaving many people feeling anxious. 

Health board bosses say the programmes use tried-and-tested approaches to help parents, carers, and teachers to support children and young people struggling with anxiety. Both can be accessed by self-referral.

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Delivered with the support of Lanarkshire’s partner SilverCloud, the Supporting an Anxious Child and Supporting an Anxious Teen, courses are available on the Lanarkshire Mind Matters website.

The Supporting an Anxious Child course is designed to help children aged 4 to 11 and explores ways to deal with anxious thoughts and feelings, helping children to face their fears.

The eight-part course includes activities, quizzes, relaxation techniques and ways to build self-esteem.

The Supporting an Anxious Teen course for young people aged 12 to 18 is designed to give parents and carers the skills and confidence they need to support teenagers.

It covers different ways of looking at anxiety; how to help young people understand their complex feelings; how to support and empower them to deal with common difficulties such as worry and low self-esteem; and problem-solving skills they can use now and in future.

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Dr Simon Stuart, consultant clinical psychologist and digital lead for psychological services at NHS Lanarkshire, said: “These are really difficult times, and it’s very normal to be feeling anxious.

"We have all lived through two years of a pandemic, which is still going on, and the current conflict in Ukraine is very understandably creating a lot of worry and uncertainty for people.

"Children and teenagers pick up on all of this and it can be really distressing for them.

“These courses are designed to help adults to support children and young people, by encouraging them to discuss how they’re feeling so they can work through their fears.

"The programmes are rooted in approaches which are powerful yet kind. Because they’re online, they can be accessed at any time so families can work through them at their own pace.

“A key feature of the courses is learning about the unhelpful patterns – what we think and then what we do in response – that we can all fall into.

"They teach new skills that children, teens and adults can put into practice day by day, and offer simple, effective tools that can make things easier.”

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The SilverCloud for Helping Teens and Children courses can be accessed here.

Anyone who needs emergency help with their mental health should call 999.

If it is not an emergency, call NHS 24 on 111 or make an appointment to speak to their GP.

Or they can find help online, call Samaritans on 116123 or email jo@samaritans.org, or call Breathing Space on 0800 838587.

For children feeling unsettled by what is going on in the news right now, the British Psychological Society has produced guidance for adults about how to talk to children about war, conflict and crises.