education

Mum calls for schools to return as lockdown takes devastating toll on daughter


A mum has told her despair at the impact of the lockdown and schools closures on her teenage daughter (Picture: Getty, posed by model)

A mum-of-two has told of the profound impact of the lockdown on her daughter who has sunk into depression and rarely leaves her bedroom.

The family are desperate for in-person learning to resume after the teenager went from being a star pupil to self-harming as her mental health worsened.

The 14-year-old had been shining at the start of her GCSEs in south east Wales after overcoming a lack of social confidence.

However her state of mind has gone downhill to the point that her mum now believes the risks to her family of Covid are eclipsed by the impact of schools closures on her son and daughter’s mental health.

After the first lockdown last year, the artist had thought her daughter had retreated to her bedroom at their home in Monmouthshire – where there are few other young people in their village – as a result of typical teenager behaviour and being isolated from friends.

However the pupil and her 12-year-old brother have since retreated to their rooms and fallen behind with online learning.

The mum said: ‘My daughter is just entering the teenage years when friends become important rather than parents.

‘She always struggled a little bit at school, she didn’t like going in throughout primary school and she has social anxiety but we were really pleased when she started to make very close friends.

‘She’s very intelligent and she began to do really well, she was self-motivated and was predicted high grades. But after the first lockdown towards the end of summer last year she slowly lost motivation and it’s got worse as the restrictions have continued.

‘One day she went for a walk and I was really pleased, because she hadn’t gone out for weeks. But while she was out she messaged me to say she had been self-harming.

‘It was a huge shock. She asked me not to mention it when she got home because she didn’t want to talk about it. It was then I realised how badly the lockdown had affected her.’

A pupil starts her Zoom lesson during home-schooling as a result of the closures to guard against Covid (Picture: Karwai Tang/Getty Images, stock image)

The mum, who did want to be named, spoke after research by Bupa found that 42 per cent of parents want the Government and local authorities to provide more help with teenagers’ mental health.

Uncertainty around education and exams and living in households under financial strain were among the factors identified by the private healthcare provider in causing symptoms such as anxiety and depression among young people aged between 13 and 19.

The survey followed separate findings by the MIND charity showing two thirds of young people experienced worsening mental health between April and May 2020.

They are fed up and struggling

The teenager was upset at the thought of even speaking to someone about her state of mind so her mum has been to see an NHS therapist without her after a referral from the family GP.

Her daughter, who also suffers from insomnia and has lost her appetite, has tried non-clinical therapies such as yoga, mindfulness and herbal remedies but stopped going for walks last summer.

The 42-year-old mum is attending weekly sessions with the therapist, provided through the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), and is trying to use new parenting tips.

In the meantime, the teenager is falling behind in remote learning delivered by Google Classroom.

Research by Bupa found that 42 per cent of parents want the Government and local authorities to provide more help with teenagers’ mental health (Picture: Reuters)

‘It’s got worse and worse,’ the mum said.

‘She will come down around three times a day for ten or twenty minutes at a time. The rest of the time she’s in her room.

‘Our son is mimicking her behaviour. They are fed up of everything and even when the lockdowns were lifted they struggled.

‘We’ve always tried to limit screen time but now it’s their only sociable outlet so it’s all gone out of the window.

‘My daughter just hasn’t done well with the online learning, it’s slowly eroded her motivation. She was in the top sets and had excellent reports but it’s all nosedived and she’s really struggling now. When I look at her “to do” list it overwhelms me and I feel completely out of my depth.

‘She wants to do the homework herself but when she looks she switches off and shuts down. It’s got to the point where I’m more worried about her mental health than her marks and I’d rather have decent relationships with my children than they do the homework.’

The teenager, who previously enjoyed music and gigs, has been stuck in her pyjamas since Christmas, the mum admitted.

She said: ‘I wouldn’t describe myself as alternative but I’ve brought my children up on organic food and to be ethical and recycle.

‘We looked at her school work one day and she asked if she got it all done could she go to McDonald’s. I said “yes” because if that makes her happy who am I to complain? Even for that she didn’t get dressed, she put her coat on over her pyjamas.’

While the mum and her husband are grateful for having the support from CAMHS, she believes the underlying issue is the continued schools closures.

In Wales, primary pupils are due to resume in-person learning on February 22, two weeks before England, although there is no timetable yet announced for older children.

Mental health issues among children are said to be on the rise due to the impact of the pandemic and schools closures (Picture: Getty/stock image)

The mum, who works from home, said: ‘My daughter has said, “I just want to go back to school”, which I never thought I’d hear her say. She just wants to go back and be a normal teenager.

‘I understand we need to protect the teachers and it’s a difficult decision but, selfishly, the risk of Covid to us as a family is far outweighed by the risk to my children’s mental health.’

MIND, a mental health charity in England and Wales, has said that a ‘mental health emergency’ is affecting children and adults.

Harmful behaviour exhibited by some young people during the lockdown includes eating disorders, self-harm and alcohol abuse, according to the separate research by Bupa. On the ground, a family doctor told Metro.co.uk last week how he fears the situation is worsening.

The mum added: ‘Getting kids back to some kind of normality is more important than things like construction or pubs opening. Children need social interaction to develop properly.

‘I know the personal risk to teachers is a worry but there’s millions of children suffering and schools need to be one of the first things that return.’

Metro.co.uk has approached the Welsh Government for comment.

For help with mental health issues, click here.

Do you have a story you would like to share? Contact josh.layton@metro.co.uk

For more stories like this, check our news page.





READ SOURCE

Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.  Learn more