Covid 19

Posted: 4th February 2022

COVID-19

NAHT survey highlights impact of pandemic on children’s mental health
A study by the NAHT and children’s mental health charity Place2Be found that 95% of school leaders, teachers and other staff reported seeing a rise in anxiety levels among children during the pandemic. The survey, conducted to mark Children’s Mental Health Week next week, also found that 86% had noticed an increase in pupils experiencing low self-esteem, 76% reported higher levels of depression, while 68% reported seeing increased feelings of anger among pupils. The vast majority of staff working in secondary schools also reported increases of incidents of pupils engaging in self-harm, experiencing suicidal thoughts, and suffering from eating problems. This has all had a negative impact on students’ ability to learn and their behaviour. However, just 23% said they had regularly been able to access specialist support for such pupils. The survey also highlighted the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of teachers and staff, with 91% reporting a rise in workload, and 89% saying there had been a negative effect on staff wellbeing. NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman, said that while the findings were “shocking”, they would not be surprising to “anyone working in schools”. He said that members “consistently” raised pupil mental health and wellbeing as a top priority, adding, “they really are on the front line when it comes to identifying and dealing with children and young people’s mental health”. This comes as Department for Education data shows a 25% rise in the number of children with mental health problems since the COVID crisis began. Nearly 1,500 children a week are presenting with mental health problems. Social workers have reported a number of issued that have been exacerbated by the pandemic, including increased pressure from gangs, sexual harassment, domestic abuse, and dealing with a parent’s poor mental health. Meanwhile, coroners across England have said that failings in NHS treatment for mental health problems have led to children dying.  The Guardian reports that in the past five years, coroners have issued reports calling for changes to prevent future deaths in at least 14 cases in which under-18s have died while being treated by children’s and adolescent mental health services (Camhs). Delays in treatment and a lack of support for patients transitioning to adult services have been cited as the most common issues.
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