By Helen Clark: Director, Child Mental Health Charter Campaign
‘The Daily Mail,’ (since 19th June 2020, Britain’s biggest selling daily newspaper) has revealed that more than a quarter of 75 different charities report that children have expressed suicidal thoughts and 41% said that some children had been abused in their home during lockdown.
The findings include:
• Almost four out of five charities said that social distancing and a lack of social interaction were still damaging children’s mental health despite lockdown easing measures
• Children living in poverty are worrying about school and having suicidal thoughts
• Lockdowns have exacerbated chronic anxiety, stress, inadequate diets, domestic violence, loss of peer support and rapid mental health deterioration
• The most common mental health symptoms were heightened anxiety and depression; trends that are likely to be mirrored nationwide
• Three in twenty charities had encountered children and young people misusing drugs
• Children with eating disorders were being helped by two in five of the charities
• Three in twenty of the charities had encountered children misusing alcohol
Dr Tamsin Newlove-Delgado, an honorary consultant at Public Health England said that the wellbeing and mental health of the most disadvantaged children had been (and was continuing to be) most seriously affected. She maintained that a national recovery process must:
‘Address pre-existing inequalities and offer safe spaces, support and restorative play and activities for those most in need.’
Helen Clark, Director of the Child Mental Health Charter Campaign said:
‘These findings are absolutely not a surprise – the Charter Campaign has been stressing the urgent need for immediate action of all these fronts for many months now. And the persuasive case made by Dr Newlove echoes precisely the argument presented by the APPG on ‘ A Fit and Healthy Childhood’ in its Report ‘The Covid Generation, A Mental Health Pandemic in the Making’ published on 19th April 2021.
The Report authors would agree with Dr Newlove that the only recovery strategy likely to succeed in restoring the health and wellbeing of ALL chidlren is one that addresses ‘pre-existing inequalities’ as a top priority.
However, ‘The Daily Mail’s conclusions are perhaps most pertinent.
The paper warns:
‘Despite recent debate focusing on educational catch-up efforts, today’s findings will intensify fears over a looming mental health crisis among ‘the Covid Generation’ (‘The Daily Mail’, 5th June 2021)
‘Perhaps it is about time that the Government listened to the nation’s most popular newspaper!’