A study conducted by NHS digital found that the number of children effected by mental health issues during the pandemic has increased from one in nine to one in six. The reasons given by children are family tensions and financial worries. More than half of young people have also reported feelings of anxiety which is the highest rate ever recorded.
Health visitors have expressed concerns regarding the impact on newborns development with services badly hit particularly with nurses being redeployed to the frontline. For many parents the only support available, due to social distancing, is online. This is similar for many children with disabilities and special needs who have been worst hit. Those with poor immune systems have found themselves constantly confined to their homes. In addition to this, as with domestic violence, abuse has become invisible. The rise in abuse which frighteningly includes child deaths and sexual exploitation have increased. Many referrals normally picked up by health visitors or school nurses are now missed.
The government insist that they have placed the needs of children as a priority and insisted that schools will be among the first services to reopen. However, it is vital that there is a strategy in place to ensure that children who require support are in receipt of it as soon as the pandemic ends. It is not acceptable for children to live with the legacy of the pandemic, the government must begin to work on a robust strategy of support for all our children now not when the pandemic ends. This means a commitment to proper funding in our schools, mental health services and health in general which includes a recruitment drive to ensure we have the staff required to implement the support needed. There is no time to waste to ensure a positive outcome for the future of our children and young people.