Lock down Life!

.…by Emma – CAMHS Research Advisory Member (22 years)

“Everything is so strange at the moment, everything is confusing, everything is uncertain!!

No one knows what is happening, no one knows (really) how to handle the situation, no one knows what this means for the future.

As a university student during this pandemic, this period has been a HUGE learning curve for me. Not only has all of our learning been transferred online, but so has (or, so it seems) the entirety of our lives! If I want to see my friends, we have to organise a videocall (I quickly learnt how to use Zoom, pre-March, I had never heard of it before), if I want to see my grandparents… videocall! If I want to organise birthday gifts for family/friends… online shopping (I thought I’d save money during lockdown, but it is clear to me that online shopping can very easily become your new best friend). Our new online lives are strange and confusing, but they are also exciting.

And, that is why I feel so lucky and grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of the CAMHS digital advisory group. This group uses the involvement of young people to conduct research and, as a result, develop digital mental health interventions relevant to service users. How relevant is such a group, especially at the moment, in a world that is increasingly relying on technology to run. CAMHS digital group is still running every week and it is amazing to feel surrounded by such dedicated and passionate individuals who, not only, want to create positive change for mental health services but who want the resources to be easily accessible to our online generation! The passion, dedication, ambition and commitment of everyone involved is inspiring to see, especially so as a university student, and I feel proud to be part of such a valuable group.

I am also passionate about helping others (in whatever way I can), so here is my unsolicited advice on how to cope and be kind to yourself during this pandemic:

While it’s important to keep up to date with Covid-19 developments, it is equally as important (if not, more so) that you keep a check on your mental health over the coming weeks and months, to ensure you’re best placed to handle any impending challenges with resilience and strength.

  • Distinguishing between what you can and can’t control is a key component of managing your mental health and lessening anxiety. By focusing your energy and attention on the factors within your control, you’re giving your mind something practical and helpful to focus on.
  • It’s important to acknowledge how you are feeling, rather than dismissing ‘negative’ emotions or beating yourself up for feeling them. Accept that you feel the way you do, and that it may be what you need to feel in this moment.
  • Writing down your thoughts and feelings can be a great way to express emotions.
  • Have self-compassion – be kind to yourself. Showing yourself a little kindness can often be the best way to help keep anxiety under control.
  • Self-isolation might become a very real experience for many of us over the coming months, but that doesn’t mean we can’t stay connected with loved ones and the outside world. If you’re worried about being alone, try to prepare in advance by reaching out to your community, friends or family.
  • Don’t force yourself to be productive. The current climate is crap enough without the added guilt of not learning Latin, doing Tai Chi or making artisan bread from scratch. If you woke up, brushed your teeth, ate something and spent 15 minutes not thinking about the Coronavirus then well done. That IS an achievement. Sometimes the best thing to do is just be, feel things and get through. Survive. That is more than enough.
  • Talking. Talk about how you feel. You’re not going through this alone. WE’RE not going through this alone. It is okay to struggle. Struggling is understandable and reaching out for help does not make you weak. 
  • It is okay to feel what you feel now. 

Ultimately, the difference in how we get through these uncertain times will come down to how we think about the situation. We can’t predict the future, and if we focus on our fears and doubt our ability to cope with what will happen, we will naturally feel anxious. If, on the other hand, we focus on the present and what we can control, as well as our strength and resilience, then together we will get through this difficult time.

At times like these, we need to remind ourselves that, whatever we may feel, it is valid. It is okay. It is important. It is justified. And, equally, it will pass. It is okay to be a mess. It is okay to respond differently to how others respond. It is okay to not be productive with every single minute of your day. It is okay to survive. These aren’t normal times so do not have normal expectations of yourself. We are in the middle of a global pandemic. Allow yourself to simply exist. 

Your thoughts are only thoughts, they too shall pass. Our current situation shall pass as well. What is important is that you stay true to yourself. Who you truly are will never change.

One day this will be over and we will all be so grateful for life in ways we never recognised before.

If you’ve got to the end of this blog (well done) and would like the chance to get involved in this inspiring group, follow this link –

Blogging off (like ‘logging off’ – I’m proud of my pun okay), Emma”

Covid-19 and Young People’s Wellbeing

Online Digital Meetings

Are you aged between 13-25 years? Want to know more about what is happening across Greater Manchester for Children and Young People’s mental health and wellbeing in response to COVID-19?

Join us every Wednesday 4-5pm via Zoom online meeting:

Next one: Wednesday 1st April 2020 4-5pm

Zoom meeting link:
Meeting ID: 510 688 563


Dr Cara Afzal: Senior Programme Development Lead

Health Innovation Manchester (HInM)

Cara is passionate about transforming healthcare using data & digital. Cara is leading on Covid and mental health for Health Innovation Manchester and will be talking to us about the new developments to support young people.   

Alan Ford: Greater Manchester Children and Young People’s Mental Health Commissioning Lead, Greater Manchester Health & Social Care Partnership.

Al will be speaking about wider developments across Greater Manchester to help with children and young people’s emotional wellbeing throughout this pandemic. Al will be able to provide an overview of GM’s response and helpful resources.

Lauren Barclay, Youth Mental Health Matters

Lauren is the Founder of this mental health charity and sits on many boards across Greater Manchester giving a youth voice in Mental Health services. She is also a Young Advisor for Young Minds. Lauren will be sharing her top tips on how to keep well during Covid-19 and answer any questions other young people may have.

Covid-19. Mental Health and Wellbeing Resources for Children and Young People.

A guide to supporting young people’s mental health:

A guide to self-care written by young people:

Helpful advice for parents and carer about supporting young people’s mental health:

A guide to what’s happening and what you can do if you are feeling anxious and worried:

A toolkit of resources for teachers, parents and carers:

This guide aims to answer children’s questions about coronavirus, how to stay safe and how to help them make the best of their time at home.

Help if you are feeling anxious:

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!!

2019 has been a busy year for CAMHS.Digital! We launched our Seminar Series, started our first digital research project in 2 schools in Greater Manchester (MANC Project) and have formed our amazing Children & Young Person’s Digital Advisory Group!

We have finished receiving feedback from young people on the mSoothebox app, and plan to take this further in 2020. We also learned more about what young people thought about sharing their mental health data for research by running Citizen Jury Workshops at various youth groups, schools & colleges across Greater Manchester.

CAMHS.Digital would like to say a big thank you to all the children & young people, parents and teachers, youth group/service leaders who have got involved in our work…we couldn’t have done it without you!

From everyone at CAMHS.Digital, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

mSoothebox project update!

During the last 12 months, CAMHS.Digital & Sparta Digital have worked with children & young people to co-design a self-harm self-management mobile app . We have held several workshops at the University of Manchester and youth groups & colleges across Greater Manchester. We have been able to use the innovative ideas the groups have come up with to design a prototype of the Augmented Reality app! More recent workshops have focused on getting valuable feedback on this design, and we plan to take these comments on board to make improvements and take this project further ( …so watch this space!)

Over 50 young people were involved in this project- a huge thank you to everyone who attended the workshops! We won’t be running any more workshops on this particular project, but will be organizing more CYP Advisory Group workshops in 2020! For more information please email us at or fill in this form.

The CAMHS.Digital team had the opportunity to present the mSoothebox project at the NIHR MindTech Symposium in London on 5th December 2019.

Volunteer as a ‘Citizen Researcher’

CAMHS.Digital are excited to offer children and young people (13-25 yrs) the chance to get involved in our work and join us as Citizen Researchers!

Workshops will run every 4-6 weeks at the University of Manchester (Travel expenses will be reimbursed). The workshops will involve discussions around developing new digital health innovations (e.g. mobile phone apps, virtual reality, etc), mental health and data sharing. You do not have to attend every single session to be part of the group.

Being part of the Children and Young People’s Digital Research Advisory Group you can:

– Work with academic & NHS researchers and develop new research skills

– Become part of a group of ‘experts’ in digital mental health

– Get to experience state-of-the-art technology

– Meet new people

– Improve the mental health of others- now and for the future

– Have something unique to put on your CV / university applications

Our first workshop will be on WEDNESDAY 23rd OCTOBER at 4.30-5.30pm

Vaughan House (Health eResearch Centre), University of Manchester,

Portsmouth Street,


M13 9GB

For more information please email us at or fill in this form.

mSootheBox project extended- update from Workshop 4

This week we joined the Health Action Champions group at the Greater Manchester Youth Network to run a mSootheBox workshop. We presented the aims of the projects and talked about some of the ideas from our previous workshops. The group had a go on the prototype and gave valuable feedback on what they liked about the design and what could be done to improve it.

We will continue working on the mSootheBox app project until November 2019! This means you still have time to check out the first prototype of the app and give us your opinions on it. Future workshops will be announced shortly and everyone who takes part will receive a £20 shopping voucher as a thank you!

If you are aged 16-25 and would like to get involved, please email us at or fill in this form.