Don’t lose sight of children’s mental health during lockdown - experts
Friday, January 8, 2021
Loss of contact with friends contributed to a decline in children’s mental health and well-being during the previous lockdown – and researchers at the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) warn that this time round could be ‘even worse’.
A survey of parents for EIF, published in the autumn, found that four in ten - 39 per cent - said their child’s mental health and wellbeing declined during the previous national lockdown.
Dr Jo Casebourne, chief executive of the EIF, said, ‘Although this latest lockdown is necessary to curb the spread of the virus, we mustn't lose sight of the fact it has massive ramifications for children. Understandably, parents will be worrying about their children’s mental health and we need to do all we can to support them.
‘That means upon the return to school, heads and teachers will need to concentrate not just on attainment and preparing for teacher assessments, but also on well-being. Without the focus on well-being, it’s unlikely that the growing gap in academic results between richer pupils and poorer pupils will be closed. We must make sure the harmful long-term impacts of the pandemic do not fall most heavily on the shoulders of the least well-off.’
The most common reason given by parents for believing their child’s mental health deteriorated during the March lockdown was a loss of contact with friends, which 82 per cent believed played a role. The next most common reasons were lack of daily routine, 62 per cent and having to do home learning, 40 percent.
In a report out later this year, the EIF will be seeking to understand the effectiveness of school-based interventions aimed at preventing mental health problems.