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Parents fear post-Covid mental health epidemic

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hree in four parents say they are worried about their child’s mental health following the pandemic, a new survey has found.

The survey of more than 2,000 parents, commissioned by BBC Bitesize and Netmums, found that 74 per cent of parents are concerned about their child’s mental health, with the same proportion reporting that their child’s mental health had become a greater priority for them since the pandemic.

Nearly half, 44 per cent, said that their child had experienced mental health challenges, and 46 per cent said their child had been lonely because of the pandemic.

The results also showed the impact of lockdowns on children’s social skills and confidence.

In total, 48 per cent reported that their child was having difficulties with friendships and socialising, and two in three – 66 per cent – said that their child had been anxious about not being able to see friends and family as often as they usually would.

Nearly three in 10 – 28 per cent – said that their child’s mental health had deteriorated over the last six months.

BBC Bitesize’s Parents Toolkit and Netmums have launched a collaboration, #LetsTalkAboutChildMentalHealth, connecting parents with mental health experts, as well as providing information to help them talk to their child about mental health.

A Mental Health First Aid Kit will be available for families needing to access help, and educational psychologist Laverne Antrobus will give advice to parents on how to discuss the issue with their children.

The charity YoungMinds will also provide tips on how to encourage children to engage with life outside the home post-pandemic.

Helen Foulkes, head of content production from BBC Bitesize, said: “The statistics speak for themselves, concerns about child mental health and the overall wellbeing of families post-pandemic are reaching a crunch point.”

Netmums editorial director Anne-Marie O’Leary said: “Parents have told us since the earliest days of the pandemic that their children’s mental health was becoming a growing concern.”

She added that the latest research “evidences just how severe the cumulative impact of two years of interrupted schooling and social distancing measures has been”.

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