Children are the hidden victims of the coronavirus crisis, according to the NSPCC.
The charity says that, throughout the pandemic, young people have reported feeling low, unhappy, overwhelmed and more recently anxious as the country eases out of lockdown.
Childline, a counselling service provided by the NSPCC, has seen an increase in youngsters getting in touch about their mental health and emotional wellbeing, with counselling sessions going up by 37% for 11-year-olds and under compared to before the lockdown.
There have been nearly 22,000 sessions about mental health concerns since the beginning of lockdown.
The number of sessions where children mentioned worries about the world more than doubled compared to before lockdown and the easing of restrictions has increased anxiety levels for some young people. They have concerns about returning to school, catching the virus, classwork, exams and how school life will be now.
The NSPCC is among the organisations calling for more investment to support children’s mental health and wellbeing in schools.
But how can parents help and how can you tell if your child is depressed or anxious? The NSPCC says you should look out for the following signs.
Signs of depression
Signs of depression in children and teenagers can include:
- persistent low mood or lack of motivation
- not enjoying things they used to like doing
- becoming withdrawn and spending less time with friends and family
- experiencing low self-esteem or feeling like they are ‘worthless’
- feeling tearful or upset regularly
- changes in eating or sleeping habits
Signs of anxiety
These can include:
- becoming socially withdrawn and avoiding spending times with friends or family
- feeling nervous or ‘on edge’ a lot of the time
- suffering panic attacks
- feeling tearful, upset or angry
- trouble sleeping and changes in eating habits
The charity says: “Knowing how to talk to your child about their mental health, or recognising the signs that they might be struggling, can be really hard. Signs of depression or anxiety in children can sometimes look like normal behaviour, particularly in teenagers who can keep their feelings to themselves.
“It’s also natural for children or young people to feel stressed or anxious about things like exams or moving to a new school. But while these experiences can be very difficult, they’re different from longer term depression or anxiety, which affect how a child or young person feels every day.
“It can help to think about what’s normal for your child and if you’ve noticed signs that they’ve been behaving differently recently.”
If you feel your child is struggling, there are a number of ways you can help. You can find this information on the NSPCC website here.