Supporting mental health
Good mental health (sometimes called emotional wellbeing, or simply 'wellbeing') is part of looking after yourself. Mental health is about the way you think and feel, and your ability to deal with ups and downs.
It is important to take care of yourself, whether you have Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) or have a family member with JIA. We have collated some free resources that can help you look after your mental health.
Many children and young people with JIA will not need additional mental health support, but remember that it is important to access the support you need if you or your child need it.
These are some of the ways you can access support:
By using tried-and-tested strategies and resources, like those shown below.
If these are not effective, or you aren't comfortable trying them, and you need additional support then please speak with your hospital team or your GP (family doctor). It is important to look after your mental health, and your medical team is there to help. They will be able to refer you for specialist support.
If at any point you need urgent mental health support please contact one of these mental health services:
If you or your child are at immediate risk of harm, call the emergency services on 999.
This short video provides some great ideas for managing worries about needles. The video is under 10 minutes long and includes tips about creating a positive injection experience at home from a clinical psychologist with over 25 years' experience of supporting people with chronic pain.
If you would like a printable copy of the tips given at the end of the video, you can find them here.
One of the more common concerns around mental health that we hear from parents is anxiety around injections and blood tests. Here are some resources that can help.
Tips and ideas from parents and caregivers on how to ease the pain of injections
These are some suggestions given by parents and carers, as previously shared for WORD Day.
Distraction techniques - using a book or iPad whilst the injection is being done. You could also put together a sensory box with special objects (such as shells, stress balls, feathers etc) which can be used as a distraction technique during a procedure. Or maybe try one of our Kipo spot-the-bird distraction sheets (see below, or download the sample sheets here).
Ask for help when needed by asking your GP practice nurse or Community nurse to give the injection for a few weeks - sometimes taking a break from parents/caregivers doing the injection can help.
Use a cool pack on the area before the injection - some children find the use of a cool pack helps to numb the pain a little. Some may find a cooling/vibrating device like a "Buzzy" helpful. They can be pricey to buy so it may be worth asking others to borrow one to try first.
A warm bath beforehand can help to soften skin.
Breathing and mindfulness techniques to help stay as relaxed as possible.
Try not to show emotion as the caregiver/parent as children can pick up on your anxiety.
A rewards box of small pocket money toys and treats can prove to be a useful distraction and reward.
Stickers as a reward can work well - like the Kipo stickers we include in our Little Box Of Hope support packs.
Giving children an element of control - so they need to have the injection but perhaps they could choose which leg to have it in that week or which day of the weekend.
Keeping to a routine can help some children as that can ease any worrying beforehand.
Having a choice of character plasters to choose from.
Talking to your child at other times about the importance of all their treatment, such as the importance of physiotherapy and having their medication, can help them understand how essential it is to helping them feel better. You could use our Stress Bucket resource as a discussion tool around this.
Parents tell us that drinking hot chocolate before a blood test can really help some children.
The stress bucket is a way to help manage your worries. It can help with injections and blood tests, other hospital visits and procedures, and anything else that causes you or your child worry.
Using the idea of a bucket filling up with our worries can help us manage our stress. The raindrops filling the bucket represent the things that can make us feel worried. If the bucket gets too full, it can cause problems and we can feel overwhelmed. To help prevent the bucket getting too full, we can put good habits in place to help us relax. These are things that we enjoy doing and are represented by the holes in the bucket that release the stress.
Cassie + Friends, a family support charity in Canada, have produced this Injections 101 video with tips and suggestions for giving injections for JIA. They have plenty more tips on their website, too.
Hospital appointments and procedures
Knowing what to expect before going to hospital can help reduce worry. Here are some videos produced by What? Why? Children in Hospital that help explain some of the tests and assessments that children with JIA may experience. You might find it helpful to watch these with your child before an appointment. We have included the most relevant ones below, although their YouTube channel has more (please note that not all are relevant to JIA).
General mental health and wellbeing support
These are some of the best resources from around the world to help support your mental health.
Anxiety Canada have a wealth of free resources for adults, teenagers and children aimed at supporting mental health and reducing anxiety.
Kooth is an online mental health community in the UK for 11-25 year olds, which young people can join themselves to get support, information and advice about their mental health.
Stem4 promote positive mental health in teenagers and those who support them including their families and carers through the provision of mental health education, resilience strategies and early intervention.
In this video, child psychologist Jeanette Yoffe talks about the Hand/Brain model developed by Dan Siegel in a really child-friendly way.
This is a helpful tool to explain what happens when we are worried, scared or anxious, and some tips for helping remain calm. We know this model has helped children cope with injections and anxiety around their treatment and condition.
The Teapot Trust provide mental health support for children and families coping with chronic conditions by delivering art therapy. Their website includes a number of videos to help with aspects of your mental health, and that of your child. A few of our favourites are below.
Mindfulness and Journaling
Our Little Box Of Hope Teen packs contain a simple journaling tool that can be used.
The Teapot Trust explain the benefits of journaling here.
NHS England have lots of resources for supporting young people's mental health, and they have kindly given permission for us to include some short videos in our support packs for teenagers. You can also view them here.
Another tool to help calm the mind is a calm jar, which you can find out about here. This can also be used as a distraction technique during injections.