The Government must listen to the voices of children and young people, recognise the disproportionate impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the most vulnerable, and ensure that mental health and wellbeing approaches prioritise prevention and early intervention.
Barnardo’s worked with a group of 10 young people to produce a new report Mental Health and Covid-19: In Our Own Words. It brings together insights gathered by young people - who surveyed nearly 150 children and young people - and those gathered by Barnardo’s through our national survey of over 100 children and young people we support, as well as 4,000 children and young people through a YouGov survey from our Big Conversation.
Together with youth colleagues we identified three major themes through our work:
- The impact of Covid-19 has not been equal - Covid-19 and the measures to contain it have had a disproportionate impact on children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing, especially the most vulnerable and marginalised in society.
- Children and young people do not feel listened to, or that the Government spoke to them - and said it was important that decision makers learn from children and young people’s own experiences of what has helped their mental health and wellbeing. We drew up a ‘What kept me well’ map based on their responses.
- Too many children and young people are having to meet crisis point before they access support - children and young people said they wanted to be supported with their mental health and wellbeing at the earliest possible stage, before their needs escalate.
Mental health and wellbeing runs through everything we do. Our services support children affected by almost all the vulnerabilities identified as risk factors for poor mental health and wellbeing. In 2018/19, we supported over 40,000 children, young people, parents and carers through our mental health services, including 28,700 children supported through our school-based programmes, aimed at improving social and emotional learning.
What needs to happen
- Invest in a programme of free summer resilience building, social activities for children and young people
- Rebalance the educational system so that it prioritises child welfare and wellbeing - see our Time for a Clean Slate report
- Provide timely, transparent and clear information targeted at and accessible to children
- Involve children and young people in ‘recovery planning’
- Provide Education, Employment and Training opportunities to young people, ensuring they are accessible for the most disadvantaged.
- Support development of alternative therapeutic interventions where it could benefit children who have suffered trauma.
- Commit to long term, sustainable funding for redesign of local support for children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing.
Read the full report below