Why lockdown could increase cases of children suffering from PTSD

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The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families believe lockdown has brought about “increasing levels of worry, fear, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress.

They also revealed a “significant number” had already suffered due to the nature of lockdown.

The Government closed schools to control the spread of the virus and charities believe the lack of routine for children could threaten children’s mental health.

Speaking to Newsweek, Professor Jessica Deighton, of the Anna Freud Centre suggests the pandemic could present an array of problems for children.

Miss Deighton said: “There’s definitely a psychological impact across the world in terms of increased worry, stress, isolation, low mood, irritability as well as diminished coping with the pandemic and day-to-day life.”

Deighton added in a recent report that school closures and a lack of peer to peer interaction could have “longer-term consequences for their mental health.”

Deighton said: “It’s about lost opportunities: making the transition from primary to secondary school, graduating, those milestones are being sucked up along the way.

“Some of those things are critical to the development and mental health.

“There is the possibility those issues may endure if support isn’t in place, particularly for vulnerable groups.”

The study revealed that the change of routine presented a threat to young people with autism and ADHD.

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It is thought that those with pre-existing health conditions were more likely at risk.

The report calculates that 1.27 billion children globally are out of school or childcare.

School closures have meant that currently, more than 70 per cent of the world’s student population is not receiving normal education.

A COVID-19 research group led by the University of Sheffield reported that in a survey among 13 to 24-year-olds, 40 to 50 per cent reported feeling significantly more anxious than in pre-coronavirus times.


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Professor Deighton also claims that children who had contracted COVID-19 have as a result experienced symptoms of PTSD.

“The psychological fallout from actually contracting COVID-19, and what that means, particularly if young people have been in intensive care which can be a traumatic experience, there is an increased incidence of PTSD in those groups.”

Jo Holmes, children, young people and families, also supported the call to support children and their mental health.

Holmes told Newsweek: “children are worried about the school closures, the disruption to their routines, there’s been a period of maybe trying to adapt as the “new normal” has settled in but now there’s the added uncertainty about when they’re going to back and what’s going to be like when they go back to school.”

Holmes has also urged the Government to make counselling available UK-wide for children in England’s secondary schools.

She said: “We wrote to the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson and said there’s no time like the present to fund a national school-based counselling role out in England like we have in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

“The Government needs to invest in school counselling that can be delivered remotely, in community settings, in alternative places, because that’s where young people identify with counsellors and they know they can have that time to look at some of the things they are struggling with.

“Schools also want counsellors, but at the moment they have to fund that through their tight budgets.”

In the letter to Gavin Williamson, the BACP writes: “As we move out of COVID-19 lockdown with schools beginning to open, this is a critical time to respond consistently to the rising mental health needs of children and young people in England.

“Evidence highlights that the earlier the help, the more effective the intervention.

“We would, therefore, welcome a national commitment to counselling provision for all children in England’s secondary schools, bringing us into line with the other nations of the UK.

“Access to counselling must also be extended to our further education colleges [for students working on A-level exams].”

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