Following the return to restriction-free learning on September 6th, the demand for 0-19s/25s healthcare services, in particular CAMHS, is bound to experience yet another surge.
The coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly affected every demographic within society, some more so than others. Children and young people have felt the impact of COVID-19 extensively, with education being a significant aspect of their lives that has been disrupted. According to the Mental Health Foundation Scotland, young people’s worries and anxieties regarding COVID-19 predominantly concern school; specifically, returning to school, missing school, and their futures following.
From disruption to typical routines, a lack of social distancing or mask-wearing, and the possibility of self-isolation, not to mention general anxieties surrounding school or college, it soon becomes evident that a return to in-person learning will further the damage done to children and young people’s mental health. This in turn will create a heightened demand for 0-19s mental health services.
Indeed, Mind’s Coronavirus survey uncovered that over one in three (34%) young people reported their mental health becoming “much worse” during the pandemic, while Young Minds discovered in January 2021 that 67% of young people believed the pandemic would have a long-term, negative effect on their mental health. Children and young people can already experience a wealth of adversity during their school years; from bullying to navigating puberty, school can present various challenges.
Online learning was therefore seen as a safe haven by some; for example, some parents of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) reported their child being less stressed during lockdown, due to not attending school and being able to spend more time with their parents. A return to in-person learning will exasperate the mental health pandemic as experienced predominantly by the younger generation, with the demand on 0-19s/25s services soon following.
Mental health services are just one of many resources that COVID-19 has diminished, with the 0-19s/25s healthcare sector especially impacted. Young people have reported being discouraged from receiving further support from GPs due to waiting lists and high thresholds, while the World Health Organization’s survey on mental health found that, from June to August 2020, 72% of reported disruptions were to mental health services for children and adolescents.
On the other hand, some pupils will breathe a sigh of relief at the prospect of returning to schools. They provide safe spaces for those facing challenging home environments, with the absence of school support during lockdown rendering them isolated and more vulnerable. Plus, with a national lockdown preventing any escape from difficult environments, the mental health of children trapped within them is bound to suffer, leaving a return to school as welcome respite.
Pastoral care will undoubtedly improve following a return to in-person learning, too; virtual drop-in sessions understandably prove more challenging to facilitate than physical sessions, with pupils unable to access technology at home placed at a disadvantage. Mental health issues also become harder to identify at home, thus care is not provided where it is required.
There is still a disconcerting lack of appropriate healthcare in place to accommodate the wave of mental health issues COVID-19 has washed up, thus it is unlikely that young people will be provided with the additional support they need anytime soon. Teachers have also voiced their concern for pupils’ wellbeing, with one stating they were anxious regarding the “readjustment” pupils will have to make and the effects of the pandemic on their mental health, as many of their own students have faced issues with “anxiety and eating disorders”.
It is clear that the demand for 0-19s mental health services is realised throughout society, with this demand further increasing throughout the pandemic. However, children and young people are still not receiving the mental health treatment they desperately require, and a return to in-person learning is only going to heighten a demand that is consistently failing to be met. The provision of mental health services for children and young people is essential to repair the damage caused by COVID-19.
Written by Charley Peacock, Bid Writer
Having previously delivered a multitude of 0-19s/25s CAMHS tenders, we understand the importance of their role in delivering an unrivalled level of care for children, young people, and their families. We also recognise the need for them to adapt in order to deliver the same outcomes in a new, unprecedented environment.
To find out more about our services and how we can help you write winning tenders, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or Laura Moore on 0113 479 0803.