Children face impeding mental health crisis after weeks locked at home, Barnardos says

Children will need a “readjustment” term to recover from six weeks in lockdown, says Barnardo’s, as it warned of an impending mental health crisis. Britain’s biggest children’s charity said its research showed the vast majority of its frontline workers had seen an increase in mental health trauma among children during the lockdown. It urged the Government to allow schools a “readjustment period” lasting “at least a term” where teachers could “adopt a child-led curriculum that prioritises staff and pupil wellbeing.” Its report, entitled Time for a Clean Slate and revealed today by The Telegraph, said the pandemic also offered a “once in a generation” chance to rebalance the curriculum to focus it more on children’s wellbeing rather than solely exams and academic performance. “Sixty-seven per cent of school staff told us that these changes would help them to support children and young people with their mental health and wellbeing,” it said. This included symptoms of anxiety, stress, irregular sleep, depression, reduced self-esteem, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) behaviours, paranoia and self-harm. “Schools have told us that a lack of daily contact with their pupils means they cannot pick up early signs of need,” it said. “It also means that some mental health and wellbeing interventions usually delivered in school cannot be in the current circumstances and that children and young people have less access to their usual support networks.” Gallery: Coronavirus - Steps and precautions to take as per WHO guidelines (Picture Services) Coronavirus (COVID-19) originated in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. When someone coughs, sneezes, or speaks they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. Where people come together in crowds, you are more likely to come into close contact with someone that has COIVD-19 and it is more difficult to maintain physical distance of 1 metre (3 feet). This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. By following good respiratory hygiene, you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu andCOVID-19. Stay home and self-isolate even with minor symptoms such as cough, headache, mild fever, until you recover. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention, but call by telephone in advance if possible and follow the directions of your local health authority. Keep up to date on the latest information from trusted sources, such as WHO or your local and national health authorities. Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly after touching any frequently-touched surface or object, including coins or banknotes. Javed Khan, Barnardo’s chief executive, said: “When children return to school, there must be additional resources available to help overcome not just the ‘attainment gap’ but also the ‘trauma gap’ faced by vulnerable pupils. Children could also suffer increased anxiety because of changes to their school routine needed to minimise the risk of infection such as staggering start and finish times and breaks, smaller classes, more rigorous cleaning, and social distancing in class and play. The report identified measures already being put in place by schools to reduce the anxiety including prioritising vulnerable pupils to return first, a focus on well being in class, dedicated time for children and young people to talk about their Covid experiences, more quiet spaces and remembrance gardens. “The curriculum cannot be simply about academic attainment at the expense of pupil and staff wellbeing,” said the report.