Pandemic: Serious impacts on kids
A new report analysing the issues children and young people raised in counselling sessions during COVID-19 shows they have experienced serious impacts on their mental health, social connections and education.
The report, which examines data from 2,567 counselling sessions with Kids Helpline, underscores the risk of vulnerable children falling through the cracks, and highlights the need for children and young people to be prioritised during and after the pandemic.
The Australian Human Rights Commission produced the report together with yourtown, which operates Kids Helpline – Australia’s only free, confidential, 24/7 online and phone counselling service for children and young people aged 5 to 25.
The Commission’s President, Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM said: “This report is uniquely valuable because it is based on the lived experiences of children and young people seeking help during the pandemic – and its recommendations relate directly to their concerns.”
Mental health was the most common issue raised by children and young people, with nearly a third describing it as a concern. They spoke about feelings of worry and stress, being trapped or frustrated, anger, sadness, loss and grief. Some said the pandemic exacerbated pre-existing mental health conditions.
One fifth of children and young people raised the impact of social isolation and being unable to connect with friends. Many children and young people also said they struggled with changes to their learning environment, and with the impacts the pandemic had on their family life.
Professor Croucher said: “Children and young people are particularly susceptible to the impacts of COVID-19 since they rely on parents, schools and friends for support. The concerns they raised with Kids Helpline highlight the need for sustained support for children, but also for families experiencing hardship and for schools delivering remote learning.”
Tracey Adams, CEO of yourtown, said: “Young people’s concerns highlight the need for an ongoing commitment to improve the mental health of children and young people not only during COVID-19 but also beyond the pandemic so that today’s young people are equipped with the information and tools to manage their mental health early on in their journey to adulthood”.
Kids Helpline has received a significant increase in the volume of children and young people seeking help since the start of the pandemic – up 24% to the end of August compared with 2019.