No child or young person should have to face mental health problems alone – says Hampshire’s leading mental health charity Solent Mind during Children’s Mental Health Week (1st – 7th February.)
Disconnection, isolation from friends and strained family relationships are having a huge impact on the mental health of young people in the region, with many reporting issues to local support services.
The most common themes emerging from young people and their families include increasing anxieties about the future, isolation and loneliness, lack of connection and informal support, bereavement and family relationship issues and pressures.
University students are also reporting missing home more than they usually would, due to being unable to bond and form friendships in the usual way. They also say they fear for families back home who may get the virus.
Solent Mind, a charity which aims to ensure everyone with a mental health issue receives support and respect, is urging young people and their families to reach out for support.
Clare Grant, Head of Peer Support & Young People at Solent Mind, said: “Disconnection and isolation is having a big impact on children and young people. There are assumptions that because young people tend to use social media more, they are fine and still connected but this doesn’t replace ‘real life’ interaction and support, especially over such an extended time frame.
Although the time period is long for everyone, for young people it is really significant as the life-learning and rate of maturity is much more concentrated in younger years. A young person who was 16 at the start of the pandemic could be 18 before there is anything approaching normality which is a huge difference life stage wise.
Being locked down with parents and siblings often without a lot of space and different pressures on everyone is also a real challenge for families and relationships can be strained.
We’re here though, to let families know there is support out there. Our helpline offers advice and support to those who are struggling right now and can help point families in the right direction for further help and advice.”
Southampton mum of three Karen has said the pandemic has had a huge effect on her children’s mental health: “Our 15-year-old son became increasingly unwell after the first lockdown. He found remote learning a struggle and fell behind on his schoolwork, which led to anxiety and stress. He was diagnosed with depression in the autumn and is receiving treatment at the moment.
It’s not just teenagers though who struggle, we have found our six-year-old daughter is waking up a lot at night having nightmares and wants to sleep with us. She is really missing playing with friends of her own age. I do worry what the long-term effect will be on her.”
Solent Mind has a Support Line which is open from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 5pm on weekends for anyone in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight who feels anxious or low and wants to talk to someone: 023 8017 9049.
Solent Mind also offers resources and support groups to help support children and young people with their mental health, see www.solentmind.org.uk/support-for-you/our-services