- Between April 2021 and October 2021 number of children needing help rose
- They required treatment for mental health problems including self harm
- The pandemic has seen multiple lockdowns and schools shut for months
The pandemic and its restrictions have seen a record number of children referred for specialist care for the most serious mental health problems.
Between April 2021 and October 2021, the number of children aged under 18 needing care for issues ranging from self-half to eating disorders had increased by 77% compared to the same period in 2019.
By the end of October 2021, there were nearly 350,000 under-18s in touch with NHS child and adolescent psychiatric teams – the largest number on number.
It comes after a joint-survey conducted by the children’s mental health charity Place2Be and the National Association of Head Teachers found an increase in emotional and mental issues among pupils since the pandemic.
Of the more than 1,000 teachers and support staff surveyed, “almost all” described seeing a rise in the children experiencing issues.
The pandemic and its multiple lockdowns saw schools closed for months and exams cancelled.
The Government has since promised an extra £79m for improving mental health support in England, which will include 400 support teams by 2023, but the charity Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition has warned this will only cover about a third of England’s pupils.
It is a growing problem identified by the coalition who say the mental health crisis could store up problems for a later date.
The group said: ‘The mental wellbeing of children has been a subject of concern over recent years, even more so since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Between 2017 and 2021, rates of probable mental disorder in childhood rose dramatically; for 6-16 year olds the rise was from one in nine to one in six children. This reinforces the need for sustained efforts to promote good mental wellbeing and reduce inequalities.
‘Around half of children who will go on to have a mental health difficulty as adults have already begun to experience symptoms by the age of 14.
‘Getting the right help to children early can limit or prevent pain and distress, as well as reducing the need for costly mental health support later in their lives.
However, supporting the mental wellbeing of younger children is often overlooked and under-resourced. Government policies designed to promote and protect mental health are predominantly aimed at older children and young people, missing this important opportunity to prevent problems from starting or escalating.’TIOB News