health

Children’s mental health crisis: ‘Chatting online is such poor substitute for seeing each other’


Here, in their own words, three teenagers speak about the challenges they are facing.

Isobel, 15: ‘School feels pointless — I cry when it gets too much’

Lives with her father, step-mother and four siblings

“Every day is groundhog day, every day the same. I want to see friends but I can’t. To be honest, I am lonely. It’s properly affecting my mood.

“My older sister got furloughed during first lockdown and came to live with us and now I share my bedroom with her.

“It gets boring being all squashed together and the house is small so we can’t avoid each other. School feels pointless. My motivation isn’t there.

“I use Houseparty to be in touch with my friends on social media but it’s a poor substitute for seeing each other. I could talk to my dad about my worries but he has his own anxieties.

“Me and my friends do late night calls. We’ve done all-nighters and then I sleep until 3pm. Some of my friends have parents who argue a lot.

“Normally we would go to the park and chat but talking over the phone can be difficult because parents could overhear. I cry when it gets too much. I am so bored of my four walls. When will it all end?”

Alice, 18: ‘I feel heavy with worry and shut down emotionally’

Lives with her mother and step-father. Preparing for A-levels

“I have dyslexia and need support from school, so lockdown has been very anxiety-provoking. I feel I have missed a lot of schooling. The stress affects my sleep and my mental health and makes me less able to work. I can get in a bad cycle and then I shut down emotionally.

“During the first lockdown, my parents’ work was closed and they both stayed at home. Now my step-dad has lost his job. My older sister has Covid and has to isolate. I feel heavy with worry.

“Exams are cancelled but what will replace them? When will my parents go back to work? When will my sister get better? When will I stop feeling I am so behind in my work?”

Michael, 18:  ‘I am listless and struggle to care’

Lives with his mother, father and two siblings and is doing A-levels

“Mental health issues are a massive part of what my friends talk about because a lot of us are struggling. I can’t sugar-coat it but one of my friends has a lot of very disturbing thoughts and a couple of others are questioning their identity in a deep way.

“It’s hard because we need face-to-face time to talk it out but all we have is online which can exacerbate things because we can be up late at night and that can make it harder to function during the day..

“For me the challenge is not to fall into bad habits and keep some sort of schedule. I am predicted two A* and an A but I am struggling with my motivation and that makes me anxious. With us all cooped up at home it is hard to find quiet space to revise. It’s a dull existence. Stay in the house all day then go sleep. It’s easy to feel tired and listless all the time.”

  • The names of the children in this article have been changed

For information and support call Mind on 0300 123 339



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