Children & Young People’s Mental Health: Life in a Pandemic

Since March 2020, the world has turned upside down. We know that the coronavirus pandemic, lockdown and education being on hold have had significant impacts on many young people’s mental health. The children you know may be more anxious, low in mood, frightened of the outside world, concerned about loved ones, and missing their friends. Even though lockdown rules continue to change, what we have been experiencing together is a form of collective trauma.

Some children’s existing mental health needs may have been exacerbated – whether they are sleeping more/less, face challenges with eating/appetite, perhaps becoming angrier or irritable; feeling more fearful or sad. These are understandable reactions. Distress comes out in many ways.

Childline have seen calls during lockdown from under 11s increase 37%, with many children reporting “worries about the world”. According to YoungMinds, 80% of young people agreed that the pandemic has made their mental health worse.

What can we do to help?

We need to offer our young people a safe space to talk about their worries. Take them seriously, without judgement, being patient, validating feelings and reassuring them that things can get better.

If you are a parent/guardian, just be there. Be present. Take time to talk, play, encourage a regular routine, and provide safety and security in whatever ways you can.

If we can support children in the right way during this time, they could turn out far more resilient than we ever realised they could be!

I’ll leave you with this lovely thought from my favourite Illustrator, Katie Abey.

Useful resources for parents/guardians:

YoungMinds https://youngminds.org.uk/find-help/for-parents/

Childline Call 0800 1111, any time

Samaritans Call 116 123, any time

Harmless (for anyone impacted by self harm): info@harmless.org.uk

By Claire Dixon, Training Service Manager (Sales) and Specialist Trainer at Harmless

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