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News 2020

18/05/2020 – Dr Lisa Cameron MP asks Gavin Williamson to Prioritise Children’s Wellbeing in Decisions Related to the Easing of Social Distancing and the Reopening of Schools

Dr Lisa Cameron MP, SNP Lead on Mental Health, wrote to the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson. The letter was signed by 65 fellow MPs.

18th May 2020

Dear Secretary of State,

The Impact of Covid19 on Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Psychological Wellbeing

As a group of cross-party MPs and Peers and in conjunction with the All Party Parliamentary Groups on Psychology and APPG Health, we write to highlight the importance of supporting the mental health and psychological wellbeing of children as part of the roadmap to recovery from Covid-19. UNESCO and others have expressed concern about the potential major detrimental effects of the pandemic and lockdown on children’s and young people’s education and well-being. The most socially vulnerable are likely to be most severely impacted. School closures are likely to have increased social inequalities.

Young Minds surveyed young people with mental health needs in March. Even in those early days of the crisis a third said their mental health was much worse and over half said their mental health was a bit worse. The survey highlighted that over a quarter of young people accessing mental health services could no longer do so. A recent report by the Sutton Trust has found that a fifth of university applicants had changed their mind about attending this autumn. These are significant and concerning numbers.

The British Psychological Society has also underlined the importance of supporting children, young people and their families, carers and professionals who work with them to face the myriad challenges they have experienced during lockdown. These include:

  • Worries about exams and final grades
  • Concerns about falling behind or not achieving their full potential
  • Loss of contact with teachers and lecturers, pastoral staff and other support staff who support their mental health
  • Worries about their peers, parents and grandparents
  • Concerns about safety when returning to school

We, like members of the Education Select Committee, are concerned about safeguarding issues, the lack of access to laptops, devices, and connectivity.

We are also concerned about the widening attainment gap, particularly for those children and young people from deprived communities.

We recommend that the government prioritises children’s social, emotional and psychological wellbeing when making decisions related to the easing of social distancing measures and the reopening of schools. Returning to school will be challenging for many children and families. There must be a detailed and evidence-based plan to protect and support children and young people’s mental health and psychological wellbeing at this time, including specifically the needs of under-fives as these children are often overlooked in policy responses. The plan must recognise the vital links between schools, families and CAMHS and provide clarity on the role newly established Mental Health Support Teams will play in the response to Covid.

School staff will have a crucial role to play to ensure that the physical, cognitive and emotional needs of children are met, and the plan must ensure these staff have appropriate support themselves. We know that schools provide much more than just education. So the plan must recognise the vital role they play within a community and support them to deliver a ‘whole school approach’ that helps the school and its wider community to promote wellbeing in the longer-term.

As we move towards recovery, we must do all we can to ensure a cohesive and coordinated plan to protect the mental health and psychological wellbeing of children of all ages and ensure they have access to right support at the right time.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Lisa Cameron MP
Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Groups for Health and Psychology
Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle
Baroness Blackstone
Baroness Browning
Baroness Campbell of Surbiton
Baroness D’Souza
Baroness Harris of Richmond
Baroness Healy of Primrose Hill
Baroness Hooper
Baroness Jolly
Baroness Jones of Moulescoomb
Baroness Lister of Burtersett
Baroness Massey of Darwen
Baroness Pinnock
Baroness Prashar
Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick
Baroness Thomas of Winchester
Baroness Tyler of Enfield
Baroness Uddin
Baroness Young of Hornsey
Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP
Bishop of Carlisle
Bishop of Coventry
Bishop of Leeds
Bishop of Peterborough
Bishop of St Albans
Caroline Lucas MP
Claire Hanna MP
Colum Eastwood MP
Daisy Cooper MP
Earl of Devon
Fiona Bruce MP
Gavin Robinson MP
George Howarth MP
Kevan Jones MP
Layla Moran MP
Lord Alton of Liverpool
Lord Dholakia
Lord Dubs
Lord Flight
Lord Foulkes of Cumnock
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath
Lord Hylton
Lord Judd
Lord Lipsey
Lord Mann of Holbeck Moor
Lord Pendry
Lord Rana
Lord Rennard
Lord Rowe-Beddoe
Lord Russell of Liverpool
Lord Swinfen
Lord Triesman
Lord Truscott
Munira Wilson MP
Paula Barker MP
Rosie Cooper MP
Sally-Ann Hart MP
Sarah Champion MP
The Baroness Cox
The Lord Balfe
The Lord Bird
The Lord Campbell-Savours
Valerie Vaz MP
Wendy Chamberlain MP
Wera Hobhouse MP