Last week was Children’s Mental Health Week, and I was happy to be able to attend the Parliamentary drop-in on Wednesday to learn about initiatives and support in and around our schools. The challenges for today’s children and young people are significant, and the lockdowns of the past two years have only served to compound the issues.
Growing up always comes with stresses and strains, as we learn more about the world around us and come to terms with our changing bodies and perceptions, but there have certainly been a few trends in recent generations which serve to multiply this. Nowadays the internet and in particular social media can be a major source of concern for some young people. Whilst it can be incredibly positive by connecting people and allowing them to join like-minded communities, it can also exhibit the very darkest parts of human nature.
One very good development is the ending of lockdown and forced facemasks. Children have lost far too much time in their vital formative years as a result of these restrictions. As we finally shed the remnants of the Coronavirus Act, we must learn our lesson and ensure that we fully take mental health considerations and the differing impacts on parts of society into account when responding to future crises.
The reopening of schools was rightly prioritised, and now the focus must be on providing adequate support to teachers and educational institutions to allow them to make up for all the lost time. They have worked heroically throughout the pandemic and I am incredibly grateful for this, as I know the wider nation is also. Dedicated mental health funding will be an important, and I will be emphasising this point to more than receptive ministerial colleagues, lest we risk a real crisis of which the effects will be felt for generations.