Last month we commemorated Children’s Mental Health Week. Whilst coronavirus has not had the same direct impact on children and young people, the concern for families and us paediatricians is the indirect and often unseen effects of the pandemic on the mental health and wellbeing of our children.
Children and young people have had to adapt to schools closing, exam changes and uncertainties, losing their social contacts and daily routine, and adapting to staying at home without their friends. This could be in addition to experiencing anxieties at home due to unwell relatives, parental financial pressures and parental mental health anxieties. The existing services that support children’s mental health, already under strain, have seen further pressures due to the pandemic.
In particular, we have seen a rise in depression, self-harm, general anxiety, eating disorders and suicidal thoughts, as well as drug and alcohol use presenting to health care during the last year. Early recognition and referral is key.
How to refer: (Please remember to call 999 if you are worried your child’s life or their wellbeing is in immediate danger).
See your GP who can make the referral. You can also self-refer to CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) Richmond Single point of access: office hours: 020 8547 5008. Out of hours 020 8770 5000
Whilst it does not replace referring to the appropriate health care professional, the following resources may be useful. Not all methods will suit your child, but hopefully will give you some ideas.
(For younger children, see image for helpful tips.)
Apps for your children:
Headspace – meditation
Mindshift – anxiety
Moodgym – CBT for depression and anxiety
Calmharm – self-harm support
Calm – stress and sleep
www.youngminds.org.uk – also gives a good explanation as to what to expect from CAMHS
www.talktofrank.com – for drugs and alcohol support
www.childline.org.uk – 0800 1111
Dr. Yuheng Zhou (All Views her own)
Teddington Resident & Paediatric Consultant at Hillingdon Hospital