Charities warn of the crushing toll of lockdown on children06/04/2021
Crushing toll of lockdown on children: Thousands in poverty suffer abuse and suicidal thoughts as they ‘struggle just to get through the day’, charities warn
- Over quarter of 75 charities said some children had expressed suicidal thoughts
- Meanwhile 41 per cent said that some had been abused at home in lockdown
- Eight in ten said children ‘were experiencing serious mental health issues’
Thousands of children living in poverty have had their mental health ‘crushed’ by lockdowns, leaving them ‘struggling to just get through the day’, a report reveals.
More than a quarter of 75 charities surveyed said some children had expressed suicidal thoughts, while 41 per cent said some had been abused at home in lockdown.
Overall more than eight in ten of the organisations said the children they work with ‘were experiencing serious mental health issues as a direct result of lockdown measures’.
And 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.
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’.
More than a quarter of 75 charities surveyed said some children had expressed suicidal thoughts, while 41 per cent said some had been abused at home in lockdown (file photo)
Heartbreaking testimony in the report included an 11-year-old saying how during lockdown: ‘I used to go to my room, hide under the covers and cry, and cry, and cry.’
One nine-year-old boy said he felt he had ‘forgotten everything’ he learnt at school.
He said: ‘I was looking forward to going back to school but when I got there, I wanted to come home again because the teacher didn’t make any sense. I just couldn’t understand what he was saying. I’d forgotten everything. Now I don’t want to go to school anymore. I feel really anxious.’
Laurence Guinness, chief executive of The Childhood Trust, said: ‘For many of these children, the lockdowns have exacerbated chronic anxiety, stress, inadequate diets, domestic violence, loss of peer support and rapid mental health deterioration.
‘While the nation worries about whether or not they will make it abroad this summer, children living in poverty are worrying about school and having suicidal thoughts. Many are struggling to just get through the day.’
The Childhood Trust surveyed 75 charities, children’s programmes, and community organisations supporting around 85,890 disadvantaged children and young people across London.
Heightened anxiety and depression were the most common mental health symptoms, according to the charities – trends that are likely to be mirrored all across the country. Children with eating disorders were also being helped by two in five of the charities, while three in twenty charities had encountered youngsters misusing drugs. A similar figure had dealt with youngsters misusing alcohol.
The report concludes that as lockdown eases vulnerable children will be the most in need of ‘safe spaces’.
Dr Tamsin Newlove-Delgado, an honorary consultant at Public Health England, said: ‘The impact of the pandemic response on the mental health and wellbeing of the most disadvantaged children and families has been a major concern.
‘Even with an easing of restrictions, there is still a lack of social interaction and in-person play time affecting children and young people’s health and wellbeing. These findings demonstrate the need for a recovery approach which addresses pre-existing inequalities and offers safe spaces, support and restorative play and activities for those most in need.’
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