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Children’s Mental Health Week more vital this year than ever, say school leaders

Children’s Mental Health Week more vital this year than ever
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1-7 February marks the seventh annual #ChildrensMentalHealthWeek, run by children’s mental health charity @Place2Be, who provide counselling and mental health support and training in UK schools. @NAHTnews 

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, which represents members in the majority of UK schools, said:

“A focus on mental health and wellbeing for children and young people is more important this year than ever. School leaders are deeply concerned about the impact the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns have had on their pupils. There is a significant challenge for schools moving forward to support children’s recovery and wellbeing and to repair any damage done to their mental health.”

Around five children in every classroom have a mental health need, and many more struggle with challenges from bullying to bereavement – potentially more this year than ever before.

Mr Whiteman continued:

“Schools will of course being putting a huge amount of effort into ensuring that the wellbeing of all pupils is supported, but there will be children and young people for whom the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic has created more serious levels of concern. These pupils may need additional, more targeted support and they will likely need more specialist help from health or social care services.

“Unfortunately, these services were stretched even before the pandemic, having been as starved of funding as education over the last decade. Now is the time for government to invest in supporting children’s mental health. Schools cannot do it alone. Without all the resources and services that should be there to help operating efficiently and effectively together, the government risks failing children just as they most need help.”

New study reveals the state of our children’s mental health and the impact poverty and COVID-19 can play on their anxiety levels.

  • A new study by Lowell reveals that 31% of children in the UK suffer with feelings of anxiety.
  • 54% of children whose households have used foodbanks within the past 12 months worry about the amount of food their parents can afford
  • 45% of children whose households have used foodbanks within the past 12 months state that they worry all the time
  • 55% of teenagers are feeling anxious about the impact COVID-19 is having on their schoolwork whilst 35% of teenagers feel anxious about their mental health due to COVID-19.

A new study by Lowell has revealed the state of our children’s mental health and anxiety levels in the UK.

Lowell surveyed 1500 children aged between the ages of 6 and 16 to reveal how poverty and the current pandemic is impacting their mental health.

The study revealed that 31% of children in the UK are currently suffering with anxiety, stating that they are constantly worried.

When asked for their top concerns and worries 57% stated schoolwork, whilst an alarming amount stated that they worry about the amount of money their parents/carers have (23%) and the amount of food their parents/careers can afford (15%).

The role poverty is playing on our children’s mental health 

Children from less affluent backgrounds are at risk of suffering long-term mental health and anxiety issues.

With foodbanks increasing in the UK, and the Trussell Trust providing a record high of 1.9m food bank parcels between April 2019 and March 20201, the study by Lowell reveals that a staggering 45% of children who live in households that have used a food bank within the last 12 months are suffering with anxiety.

When asked for the reason behind their anxiety the children revealed:

Reason the children worry

% of children from a household that has used a foodbank within the past 12 months

The amount of food my parents can afford

54%

The amount of money my parents have

32%

My family

21%

My friends being okay

20%

Things that are happening in the world

17%

Schoolwork

14%

The role COVID-19 is playing on our children’s mental health 

The study by Lowell asked teenagers how COVID-19 was impacting them.

73% of teenagers stated that the pandemic had caused them to worry more, with education and socialising being the main drivers behind the extra concern.

With the UK government recently announcing2 that school tests are to be cancelled due to the pandemic, and a calculated grade process to be implemented instead, the study by Lowell reveals the impact this has had on the students’ mental health.

60% of teenagers are feeling anxious about their schoolwork due to the pandemic, with 55% worrying about their grades from school tests.

What maybe more alarming is that 35% of teenagers are worried about their mental health due to the restrictions put in place for COVID-19

Commenting on the findings, John Pears, Lowell UK Managing Director said:

“During this time of global instability, many people are anxious about a number of things.

As a parent myself, I find it very upsetting to think that children are worrying about anything, let alone family finances. 

We would urge anyone, regardless of whether they have children, to reach out and speak to someone if they are struggling with their finances.  There are a number of organisations out there who can provide specialist impartial support to anyone who is feeling pressure.  A list of organisations who can help can be seen at https://www.lowell.co.uk/help-and-support/independent-support/ 

Methodology: Lowell surveyed 1500 children between the dates 19/01/2021-22/01/2021 via onepoll.

 

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