The experience of Covid-19 has shone a further light into the urgent need for a new Mental Health Act. There has been no legislative update since 1989 – and lots of fruitless ‘pilot schemes’ with no statutory force, no national roll-out and no proper funding streams guaranteed.
Many children with existing conditions have experienced a sharp deterioration in their mental health since the onset of the pandemic and others have developed a mental health illness for the very first time. Reasons for this shocking development are some, or all, of the following:
- The experience of lockdown and enforced isolation from family, friends, school and routines
- The fact that some children will have had little or no access to any outdoor space whatsoever; not even a small garden
- Some children have experienced a worsening of their condition or developed a mental health illness for the first time due to overwhelming terror and fear of Covid19. Such anxiety may have been intensified by family bereavement (occasioned by the pandemic)
- Some children have been confined during lockdown in enforced proximity to a perpetrator of abuse either physical, sexual or mental or may have been forced to witness others suffering such abuse
- Some children may have developed mental health illnesses or had present conditions intensified due to anxiety about the future; this could include the forthcoming recession; what will happen to their education, or owing to direct traumatising experiences of poverty to include food shortage and hunger
- Some children will have suffered online abuse from sexual predators
- Children with existing conditions may have had their usual medical appointments and face-to-face session with counsellors and therapists cancelled
- Parents have been unable to obtain face-to-face treatments and assessment appointments for children who have developed new mental health conditions
Do select from the above information to write letters/emails asking your MP to sign our new EDM 685: the Effect of the Covid-19 outbreak on Children’s Mental Health https://edm.parliament.uk/early-day-motion/57210/effect-of-the-covid19-outbreak-on-childrens-mental-health.
Our key campaign objectives now MUST be to succeed in getting the Government to set clear dates and times for the promised reform of the Mental Health Act to begin its progress through the House of Commons and a definite, unswerving commitment to place the urgent needs of children at the heart of the new legislation.
Please therefore confine your approaches to MPs to these two objectives. When we have achieved them, we can return to wider essential themes, such as the Six Principles in the Charter.
MPs are now (understandably and in the interests of safety) not holding ‘face-to face’ appointment surgeries in their constituencies because of the pandemic. However, their postbags and email trails have never been so busy! Please write/email and ask them to sign the EDM.
Let me know what they say by emailing me firstname.lastname@example.org. I do need to know all outcomes as soon as possible – even if the response is negative.
Your help so far in this campaign has been invaluable. I very much look forward to hearing how you are getting on with our new EDM.
Thank you for everything that you are doing to help children and their families and those who work professionally with them.
Helen Clark: Campaign Manager for the Child Mental Health Charter Campaign