Life in lockdown could lead to “long-term” mental health consequences for children, charities have warned.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, leading mental health organisations called for an expansion of mental health services to cope with increases in demand for care.
The letter, signed by mental health charities, professional bodies and unions, calls for the Government to take urgent steps to reduce the impact of the crisis on young people’s mental health.
“The crisis is affecting many young people in ways that will risk long-term consequences for their mental health,” the letter states.
The authors wrote: “The fear of becoming ill or seeing a loved one become ill, the loss of routines, the difficulties of social connection, the impact of loneliness, the disruption to education and the challenges of living in difficult or dangerous situations are creating additional pressure for young people across the country.”
Meanwhile others will be affected by bereavement, domestic violence or abuse.
They added: “In many cases, young people have also lost the coping mechanisms that could help them to manage their mental health.”
The authors, including the heads of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the National Education Union and the the charities YoungMinds, Barnardo’s and Samaritans, called for the Government to take a series of measures to protect young people and strengthen services.
These include emergency investments in charities currently working to help those in need, launch a national campaign to promote how children can protect their mental wellbeing and introduce a support package for schools to help them prioritise mental wellbeing for pupils.
Officials should also set aside additional support for mental health services to meet rising demand.
Previous research from the charity YoungMinds found that two thirds of British parents were concerned about the long-term impact of the Covid-19 crisis on their children’s mental health.
And four in five (83%) of young people with mental health needs believe their mental health has deteriorated as a result of the pandemic.
The letter states that, for those with existing conditions, the pressures from the pandemic are “exacerbating their needs”.