"We know this is a difficult time for young people" Mental health support for youths continues in lockdown

Childline are holding one counselling session every five minutes and almost three quarters of young people are more anxious about their futures due to the pandemic, new research has suggested.

By James Holt
Friday, 29th May 2020, 7:00 am

The worries of a bright future, education and career have been highlighted as some of the main concerns that are overwhelming young people amid the Coronavirus lockdown.

In a survey by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), it found that 70 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds are experiencing an increase in anxiety, with Childline also announcing that they are holding one counselling session on average every five minutes, for young people worried about their mental health and wellbeing.

Since March 23, the beginning of lockdown and May 10, 16,644 counselling sessions were given to children with mental health concerns.

More young people are reaching for mental health support.

'We are With You', a service for young people in Lancashire, supports those under 25 with alcohol, drug and mental health issues, as well as their family members.

"It’s important that young people and their families know we are still there to support them with drug or alcohol issues during the COVID-19. We are still in touch with the young people we work with, and their parents or guardians, by phone and video call," said Emily Broklebank, Team Leader.

"If you’re worried about your alcohol or drug use, or that of a young person that you know, you don’t need a GP referral to access our support. You can get in touch with us by calling 0808 164 0074 or you can speak to a trained advisor via the webchat service on our website."

One child in every five in Lancashire has experienced a mental health problem by the age of 11.

Staff at We Are With You, in Preston.

The NSPCC, which runs Childline, saw around 339 sessions a day - roughly one every five minutes, being given to young people suffering with mental health issues.

The service has already delivered 43% of last year's total mental health counselling sessions within just the seven weeks of lockdown. Of this, around 120 sessions mentioned coronavirus on average each day, with 5,880 sessions - around a fifth of the total - taking place during lockdown.

The NSPCC also said use of Childline's Calm Zone, an online tool to help young people manage their feelings, had increased four fold during lockdown.

The RSPH also revealed that people under 25 are more likely to be working in a sector that has been closed as a result of the pandemic, meaning they could face further anxiety around personal health as they are asked to return.

"Children and families have faced extraordinary challenges because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the next few months will be no different,” said Dame Esther Rantzen, Childline founder.

"Childline provides a vital lifeline to young people who are trying to cope with the fear, anxiety and distress caused by the pandemic.

"We know from the counselling sessions we have delivered that children's mental health has been directly impacted and those children who are living in homes which are not safe - where there is violence, addiction or abuse - are finding it especially difficult during lockdown.

"Young people in times of stress often find that their friends and the security of school are crucial to their mental wellbeing, but now they are without them, and are isolated and alone.”

Peter Tinson, Executive Lead for Out of Hospital Services for Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System said: “We know that it is a very difficult time for children and young people. We are working with partners across Lancashire and South Cumbria to ensure that everyone has access to the mental health support and treatment they need.

“Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust recently launched a new 24/7 phone line as part of the response to Covid-19 which is available for children and young people. This telephone support service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by calling 0800 953 0110.

Trained medical professionals are available to answer calls from people needing immediate advice or assistance, for themselves or a friend or family member. Callers can receive a mental health assessment and referral on to appropriate services."

The NHS Foundation trust also run a 'Healthy Young Minds' online resource, developed with partners across Lancashire and South Cumbria to provide helpful information for children and young people to manage their mental health and wellbeing. This includes information about COVID-19, what to do if they are feeling anxious or overwhelmed, self-help tools, resources and updates on CAMHS services.

Childline said there has been little change in concerns pre and post-lockdown, but that the crisis has exacerbated young people's worries and circumstances.

These can include abuse, domestic violence and difficult family relationships.

Childline can be contacted at 0800 111111. For a full list of mental health support and resources available in Lancashire and South Cumbria visit healthierlsc.co.uk/MentalHealthSupport