A series of steps have been outlined by researchers, which they say schools, mental health services, and policymakers should take to help children and young people adjust and get through the mental health crisis of the pandemic.
In a policy briefing, researchers at King’s College London and Oxford University have sought to address the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and its material and psychological influence on the wellbeing of young people.
- See also: 'Latest Every Mind Matters campaign ‘empowers’ the public to find out “what works for me”'
- See also: 'Mind calls for immediate mental health funding for face-to-face services'
- See also: 'Training programme for mental health leads in schools and colleges set to launch'
Addressing Covid-19 through policy and provision
The pandemic has caused widespread disruption to children and young people’s academic and social lives, as well as causing many to experience additional adverse pressures and unique forms of social anxieties. The academic team has set out a series of potential policy solutions to address these short- and long-term problems. The recommendations include:
- A normalisation of conversations about mental health in schools to identify those in need of help.
- A 'whole school approach' to children's mental health involving parents, carers, public health teams, and teachers.
- A maintaining or increasing of the financial support available to families facing difficult times.
- Reforming the benefit and universal credit system and a more comprehensive exploration into the feasibility of a guaranteed income scheme.
- Reviewing digital education tools and investing in those that have improved children’s experiences of education.
- Bridging the digital divide and deficit by guaranteeing children internet and computer access.
- A gradual return to conventional learning through a hybrid model.
- Strengthening the provision of early intervention.
- Developing open-access mental health services for young people up to the age of 25.
- Assessing the impact of the move to digital provisions, such as online mental health services.
- Improving communication between schools and families.
- Investing resources in special education, support care, and mental health funding.
- Identifying those who require tailored support due to experiences of trauma and bereavement.
Professor Craig Morgan, Co-director of the ESRC Centre for Society and Mental Health, said: “There is currently widespread concern about the mental health of young people. These recommendations provide policymakers, school leaders, and service providers with concrete actions that they can take to address these concerns and to promote mental health and wellbeing among the many young people.”