Children’s mental health needs have rocketed by a third since the coronavirus pandemic, an NHS leader has revealed.
Kids were stopped from seeing their friends and barred from schools during the first wave last spring, with fears their education has been permanently harmed.
It comes as debate rages over whether youngsters should be vaccinated to boost Britain’s immunity to Covid-19.
NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson told Times Radio: “We did a really interesting survey of our mental health trusts about two or three weeks ago, for a piece of evidence we were giving to the health and social care Select Committee about children and young people, and everybody was saying there’s at least a 30% increase in terms of the number of children and young people who do require mental health support.
“What we’re finding is that a lot of those people are coming into accident and emergency departments.
(Image: Chris Hopson/Twitter)
“We also know that particularly in children and young people, there is real pressure on inpatient beds.
“So what hospitals are saying to us is there is a need for them to help out their mental health colleagues by temporarily using acute hospital inpatient facilities.”
He added: “The thing that is particularly concerning and it should concern us, is the number of chief execs we’ve got saying they’re really worried about children’s health.
“It’s not just mental health, it’s also physical health as well. I think in a real sense that children have had such a hard deal over the last 15 months in terms of education, but also in terms of mental health.
“So I think one of the questions we’re all asking ourselves in the NHS is what is the long term impact of Covid-19 going to be in terms of the health of the nation because it’s really clear that if you can’t address children’s health, particularly mental health needs, those problems tend to get worse, and you tend to end up with much longer term mental health issues that then need treatment.”
Experts are divided over whether to jab children to help prevent the disease taking hold again.
Professor Adam Finn, Professor of Paediatrics at Bristol University and a member of Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, said: “The thing about immunising children at the moment is that like the third wave problem, where we still have some high levels of uncertainty.
“We really need not to immunise children unless there’s a clear benefit to children from doing that.
“Now, that could turn out to be the case. Clearly, children have been very much harmed by disruption to their education over the last year, and at all costs we want to avoid that happening any further.
“But conversely, children really don’t get sick very much with Covid and so imposing immunisation on them when it’s not really needed, it would be the wrong thing to do.
“So, the JCVI will give advice, but it never really needs a little bit more evidence on this before it can give clear advice.”
Originally Appeared Here