Editorial

COVID-19 and mental health: the fallout for children and young people

More nurses and more support are needed to cope with a growing mental health crisis
Picture sows a young girl with her head on a pillow, touching her head with her hand and looking sad

More nurses and more support are needed to cope with a growing mental health crisis

A report by childrens commissioner for England Anne Longfield found mental health services during COVID-19 are nowhere near what is needed.

This follows an NHS Digital study in July 2020 which estimated that one in six children were likely to have a mental health condition, and that incidence of clinically significant mental health disorders had increased by 50% in three years.

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More nurses and more support are needed to cope with a growing mental health crisis

Picture sows a young girl with her head on a pillow, touching her head with her hand and looking sad
Picture: iStock

A report by children’s commissioner for England Anne Longfield found mental health services during COVID-19 are ‘nowhere near’ what is needed.

This follows an NHS Digital study in July 2020 which estimated that one in six children were likely to have a mental health condition, and that incidence of clinically significant mental health disorders had increased by 50% in three years.

The information for Ms Longfield’s report was compiled at the start of the pandemic and the NHS Digital report three months into it. Neither is bang up to date but both add to growing concerns about how children and young people are coping during the crisis.

Children have not been at the forefront of the battle with COVID-19 but they are bearing the brunt of it long-term. The NHS Digital report hints at some of the worries affecting children: family arguments, loneliness and poor sleep are among them.

Waiting lists for child and adolescent mental health services are long and patchy

Plans for mental health support teams in schools and the NHS, which can be provided digitally, are welcomed, but it is well known that NHS services are understaffed and underfunded, with waiting lists for child and adolescent mental health services too long and patchy depending on where you live.

Figures show that the number of nurses working in mental health services for children have fallen in the past decade and there are calls for more nurses to cope with the new challenges. However, children’s nurses, school nurses and health visitors are also dealing with the fallout and need support as well to prevent COVID-19 affecting children for the rest of their lives.


@RCNi_Christine

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Correction

The January cover of Nursing Children and Young People featured a child using an asthma inhaler with a spacer and a mask to illustrate an article on trends and variations. Unfortunately, as some readers have pointed out, the mask was upside down. Apologies for this error.

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