A report from a children-led investigation has shown that schoolchildren are facing a mental health crisis as a result of the COVOD-19 pandemic.
The findings from iSpace Wellbeing's Children's Advisory Board— made up of 30 children aged eight to 13 across 12 schools— revealed that one in 20 children considered suicide in the last 12 months.
It also discovered that one in 20 have self harmed in the last year, which is two to three in every class.
The survey had a sample size of 1,000 children and found also that:
- 44 per cent reported they have been feeling anxious over the last 12 months
- 28 per cent have felt increasingly lonely during the pandemic
- One in ten said they have been bullied
- 22 per cent have felt their parents were too busy for them
- Over half said they missed doing things with their family
- 28 per cent have heard their parents discussing money worries.
The board of preteens suggested a number of measures to help tackle the looming crisis in schools.
They would like to see the drafting and implementation of a law that ensures news programs feature at least one positive story.
They also want the BBC to have a specially-designed weekly program to educate young people on how to improve their mental health.
For schools, they would want the teaching of wellbeing lessons done at the same level nationally while allowing children to take a limited number of days off for their mental health needs.
The report also recommends that employers should consider implementing family-friendly flexible working hours.
Child’s views relevant
At a recent event organised to discuss mental health and wellbeing, UN Secretary General, Secretary-General António Guterres said that mental health services have long suffered from neglect and underinvestment, with 'too few children' accessing the services they need.
The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified the problem. Millions of children are out of school, increasing their vulnerability to violence and mental stress, while services have been cut or moved online. As we consider investing in a strong recovery, support for children’s mental wellbeing must be a priority.
He also urged authorities everywhere to take the views and lived-experiences of children themselves, exposed to increasing on and offline threats, into account when formulating policies and protection strategies.
Children play an important role in supporting each other’s mental wellbeing. They must be empowered as part of the solution. Let’s work together for sustainable, people-centered, resilient societies, where all children live free from violence and with the highest standards of mental health.