“Heartbreaking” and “awful” new statistics have revealed that over twice as many children and adolescents were referred to mental health services in England during the coronavirus ‘lockdown’.
The statistics, which are marked as a record high, were described as “heartbreaking” by Dr Elaine Lockhart, the new chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, who also warned that the findings could be an early sign of young people developing “entrenched mental health issues that could have been avoided had we been able to intervene earlier”.
“It is difficult to consider these numbers and know that behind each one is a child or young person, and a family, who are in distress. Children and young people’s mental health has been neglected for years and in the meantime, we know that the need is increasing,” she said.
“We were already struggling to meet demand before the pandemic. But the pandemic has absolutely resulted in an increase in mental health disorders in children and young people.”
The data showed that 65,533 children and adolescents required mental health services in March 2021, a more than 100 per cent increase over the previous year’s data and 68 per cent higher than March 2019.
Similarly, for under-18s, emergency referrals were two-thirds higher than the year previous, with Lockhart adding that children with extreme anxiety disorders weren’t being given the urgent treatment that was needed.
“There’s only so much capacity in the system: that child would keep getting pushed aside because even more acutely damaged children are coming up behind them.”
If you, or someone you know, is struggling with their mental health or the issues listed in this story, contact Samritans here or on 116 123.
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