21/04/20 – CORONAVIRUS FEARS SPARK HUGE INCREASE IN CHILD ANXIETY LEVELS – HELEN CLARK WRITES

Parliament resumes today and MPs, who will be adapting to new ways of working, have a first opportunity after the Easter Recess to question the Government about its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Helen Clark, APPG Lead Author and Spokesperson for the Child Mental Health Charter Campaign, asked them to champion the needs of children and pointed to a new survey published by Young Minds that has highlighted a spike in child anxiety levels consequent upon the lockdown.

The charity examined a sample response of 2,111 young people with a history of mental health issues between Friday 20th March when most schools closed to the majority of children and 25 March when further restrictive measures were introduced.

Main finding include:

  • 82% of respondents said that the crisis had made their mental health ‘worse’
  • 51% said it had made their mental health ‘a bit worse’
  • 32% saying that it had made their mental health ‘much worse’
  • 66% agreed that watching the news was unhelpful for their mental health
  • 26% of young people who had been receiving support for their mental health before the crisis were now unable to access it due to a number of reasons including schools closing, problems connected with accessing remote support such as privacy worries, anxiety about using the telephone or video calls in place of trusted ‘face to face’, inability to acquire the technology for remote support
  • Major concerns included, loss of routines and coping mechanisms, loss of social connections, worries about school/university closures, family health

Chief Executive of Young Minds, Emma Thomas said:

‘The results of this survey show just how big an impact this has had, and will continue to have, on the mental health of young people,’

https://youngminds.org.uk/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/coronavirus-having-major-impact-on-young-people-with-mental-health-needs-news-survey/ 

Childline also confirmed that:

‘Hundreds of children are ringing the service with concerns ranging from family conflict and staying at home to alarming numbers experiencing suicidal thoughts.’ 

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/mum-i-am-really-scared-crisis-as-coronavirus-causes-surge-in-child-anxiety-xsd0gqwgv 

Helen Clark added:

Organisations like Young Minds, Childline and many others are working overtime, trying desperately to help children and their families – and so expert help is out there. But what there is NOT is concentrated help and official advice from the Government made accessible on a routine and regular basis.

Every week, at the daily press conferences, the Government sends a senior Minister to talk about the ever-shifting situation with regard to the economy and employment and the Health and Communities Secretaries as well as the Chancellor of the Exchequer are important attendees whose presence is crucial. But so far the Minister for Children ( a Junior role; it should have the seniority and status of a Cabinet post) is never invited to attend and there has been nobody either in the expert panel to provide a professional assessment of children’s needs.

This entire crisis has served to illustrate that in real terms, whether we are in the midst of a pandemic or indeed, during the vast majority of time when we are NOT – children are little more than a cipher – if indeed that.

They and their parents deserve better.

I am asking MPs from ALL parties represented at Westminster today, to launch a fightback on behalf of all the children in their own constituencies and elsewhere in the UK. Children deserve to be right at the heart of decision-making and announcements during this terrible crisis and at the forefront of any and all measures taken to alleviate its effects and ultimately, its duration.

Helen Clark, The All-Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood

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