Disadvantaged children are struggling with their mental health and worrying about having enough food as a result of lockdown measures, a survey has revealed.
The Childhood Trust has worked with 75 London charities and community organisations helping around 85,890 children, of which 82% said the young people they support were experiencing serious mental issues because of lockdowns.
More than a quarter said youngsters had expressed suicidal thoughts while 41% of the charities surveyed said children had experienced greater abuse at home during lockdown.
The trust warned that children living in poverty are “in crisis” as it launched a report setting out the effects that pandemic restrictions have had on their mental and physical health.
“For many of these children, the lockdowns have exacerbated chronic anxiety, stress, inadequate diets, domestic violence, loss of peer support and rapid mental health deterioration,” said trust chief executive Laurence Guinness.
“While the nation worries about whether or not they will make it abroad this summer, children living in poverty are worrying about school and having suicidal thoughts.
“Many are struggling to just get through the day.”
Three-quarters of charities reported that beneficiaries were still experiencing food insecurity, despite being back at school and having access to more substantial meals.
Anxiety (88%) and depression (79%) were the most common mental health issues experienced by disadvantaged children and young people.
An 11 year-old respondent said: “I didn’t really do much. I just slept all day honestly. There wasn’t anything to do.
“I wasn’t really eating either. During lockdown, I had problems with eating… since I’ve been back at school it hasn’t really gotten better either. It’s kind of gotten worse.”
This week, the trust is launching its £4 million Champions for Children campaign, funding 111 children’s charities across London to engage more than 150,000 children.
The campaign aims to provide intensive support over the summer and beyond to help restore well-being through play and supervised activities.
Mr Guinness said: “The Childhood’s Trust Champions for Children campaign will give children who are most in need intensive support to recover over the holidays, helping to bring some happiness through play and other supervised activities.
“This has never been more needed – children living in poverty are right now, in crisis.”
Written by Hedi Mehrez
News reporter for Talking Mental Health