The Mental Health of Children and Young People

This is the third of four reports from the Children’s Alliance. the Alliance for Childhood is represented on the working group that produced the report.

From the introduction:

Children and young people were not a priority in the early stages of the pandemic. Whilst children and young people were considered to be at ‘low health risk’ but this did not account for the seriousness of mental health issues.

Evidence of the psychological impact of Covid-19 on children and young people is fast emerging. A concerning number of studies and systemic reviews suggest the overwhelming negative impact on child and adolescent mental health. The Buttle UK survey (June 22 – 15 July 2021) revealed that the Covid-19 pandemic had exacerbated an ‘under the radar’ mental health crisis leaving a generation of children traumatised and unable to benefit from the Government’s educational recovery programmes.

We must listen to frontline professionals and prioritise mental health support’:

Our report shows that the primary need for ‘Generation Covid’ is not educational attainment, but emotional recovery and the fostering of resilience; supported by a National UK Strategy for Play, encompassing play provision and facilities in all schools and early years settings.

There are currently too many children and young people across England being denied vital mental health support in schools or access to mental health services. The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have impacted children’s mental health in many different ways. This report highlights the increased levels of anxiety, behavioural issues and increased conflicts at home. It asks for immediate measures to ‘level up’ service provision for children and young people with SEND and those with existing mental health conditions whose needs have been forgotten during the pandemic with our most vulnerable children frequently left unsupported. Prioritising the maintenance of grades and statistics since the pandemic cannot and must not be at the expense of child and adolescent mental wellbeing.

Here, we urge the Government to support fully-funded early intervention hubs in schools and communities that address the inequalities that contribute to poor mental health. The hubs should provide an easy access self-referral service for children and young people who fall below the CAMHS threshold. We recommend statutory national in-school counselling and play and creative arts therapy services staffed only by those who are professionally accredited and registered through an independent Government-approved agency such as the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) Accredited Register Programme or the Health and Care Professions Council.

Read the Report

The three reports are here.

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