Shocking new report reveals children’s mental health crisis

A shocking new report - which three Sussex schools helped to compile - has revealed the true mental health crisis facing children during the pandemic.

Monday, 12th July 2021, 12:20 pm

Pupils from Copthorne Prep School, Handcross Park and Cumnor House School in Haywards Heath are part of a Children’s Advisory Board, set up by iSpace Wellbeing, to look into children’s mental health.

And the board’s shocking findings are now being presented to the Government in a call for change.

The report reveals that 1 in 20 children considered suicide and the same number self-harmed in the past year.

There is a mental health crisis among schoolchildren because of the pandemic
There is a mental health crisis among schoolchildren because of the pandemic

A survey of 1,000 children was carried out and nearly half reported that they have been feeling anxious over the last 12 months and more than a quarter have felt increasingly lonely throughout the pandemic.

One in ten said they had been bullied over the past year, while more than one in five children have felt that their parents were too busy for them.

Over half admitted they have missed doing things with their family, while 28 per cent had heard their parents discussing money worries.

The disturbing statistics mirror the nationwide children’s mental health crisis.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists reported a 28 per cent rise in the number of children referred to children’s mental health services in December 2020, compared to the previous year.

A survey by NHS Digital in July 2020 found that the number of children with clinically significant mental health conditions was 50 per cent higher than in its previous 2017 survey.

Paula Talman, founder of iSpace Wellbeing said: “School days should be the best days of your life, but they are full of ups and downs – and that’s completely normal.

“The key to helping children thrive in school? Learning that everyone needs help at times, and that it’s OK to ask for it; and most importantly knowing, who and how to ask for help when you need it.”

Children’s mental health services are struggling to meet demand with four in 10 GPs admitting in January 2020 that they were advising parents of children with mental health problems to pay for private care because NHS services were too overwhelmed to help.

To help tackle this mental health crisis, the Children’s Advisory Board created a list of suggestions, which included news programmes being legally required to feature at least one positive story, the BBC having a weekly programme to help young people proactively look after their mental health and online bullies being made to complete a course on how to use social media correctly.

The Advisory Board said social media and photo sharing apps needed more measures to help keep them safe, including a function that shuts them down after too much use, and suggested video games featured reminders for players to take regular breaks.

They discussed the importance of being able to take their mobile phone to school in order to feel safe and wanted mental health and wellbeing lessons to be taught at the same level in all schools so no children get left behind.

The children also thought schools should allow a limited number of days off to help look after their mental health in a similar way to taking a day off when they feel physically unwell and wanted employers to implement family-friendly flexible working hours.