The pandemic has been difficult for many young people; however, even the youngest of in our society appear to be exhibiting symptoms of extreme distress. Recent reports suggest more young children - some as young as five - are experiencing panic attacks. These are often prompted by socialising in playgroups, or even from leaving the house.
Many children and young people may struggle from re-integration into socialising. Most will have been completing school/college from home and missing out on seeing friends in real life, inevitably affecting the development of key social skills. NHS sources quoted in a recent report by the Independent have reported that children are “prone to heightened anxiety and depression since lockdowns began more than a year ago”, leaving parents and carers concerned and services overwhelmed.
There has been a growing call for support throughout the pandemic - including an “increasing demand for the treatment of eating disorders” amongst young people, the NHS reports. According to recent figures quoted in the same Independent piece, 1.5 million extra children and young people will need more support for their mental health and wellbeing. Many people have already come forward seeking support, with waiting lists for some services, such as the NHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, currently up to four years long in several places.
Although some parents/carers have turned to private psychologists, waiting times for these professionals is also long, and many no longer accepting new patients. And this is not an option for low-income families.
An extra £40 million has been allocated to address the COVID impact on children and young people’s mental health and enhance services across the country, by NHS England.
You can read the Independent's item in full here.
More information about NHS England's funding boost for young people's mental health services can be found here.