Stressed and self-harming children amid UK cost of living crisis | children’s health

The impact of the cost of living crisis on children has led some to start self-harming, according to a new report from a leading children’s charity.

According to The Childhood Trust, the impact of money worries for UK families caused stress for 47% of children, while 21% of parents said their children were smiling less because of the financial crisis.

But, more worryingly, 9% of parents who responded to their survey said their children had started self-harming.

The cost of living crisis threatens to push many previously financially stable families into poverty for the first time and the consequences could be “disastrous”, according to the association’s chief executive, Laurence Guinness.

“A lot of children find themselves in this dreadful situation for the first time,” he said. “They are deeply, deeply ashamed, embarrassed and worried about their plight.

“Two or three kids in a class of 30 self-harm because they’re so worried about their living situation, whether their parents can pay the bills or whether they’re going to be able to shower that night.

“A little boy told me he can only shower once a week now and his mum stands next to the shower to make sure it’s not long either.”

The cost of living crisis is worsening a mental health crisis among children in Britain caused by the Covid pandemic, Guinness has said.

Parents’ relentless preoccupation with whether they can heat their homes or put food on the table has a profound negative impact on children, the report says.

“When I’m hungry, I ask my mum if we have food and she then tells me if there’s enough money or not,” said seven-year-old Esham. “If there isn’t, I just go to the cupboards and see if there’s anything and if there’s a snack, then I’ll just eat it and try to go to bed. “

For confidence, there is little doubt about the underlying cause of the mental health crisis in children. McGuinness said: “After a decade of welfare cuts and reductions, the government’s response to the cost of living crisis amounts to a sticky bandage on the gaping wound of growing inequality.”

He called the Conservative government’s decision not to increase Child Benefit a “major failure” that led to more children struggling with clinical depression.

Susan Rudnik, director and senior arts psychotherapist at Latimer’s Community Arts Therapy in west London, believes a lack of early intervention resources has caused the biggest child mental health crisis she has ever seen.

“Self-harm is very complex, but very often young people think it’s a way of coping when there’s nothing else that’s going to help them,” she said. “It’s quite worrying when they rely on unhealthy coping mechanisms because there is nothing or no one else available to help them, be it a professional, a parent, a friend or a teacher.”

“But teachers are overwhelmed, mental health professionals are overwhelmed, therapists are overwhelmed, the third sector is cut off. We are heading for a disaster.

She added that girls are most likely to be referred for self-harm and that although it is mainly primary school children likely to be affected, charities are “increasingly” working with secondary school children.

With more than one in five children (22%) also appearing angrier than before, according to their parents, food poverty has been highlighted as one of the biggest problems currently facing poor families in Britain .

A single mother of three said: “Right now everything is really crazy. Everything is hard. When I went shopping for the week it was £30, maybe £35.

“Now if you go and get a few things you need it’s £60 or £70. It’s a shock. We try to reduce. There is a charity behind my house, so sometimes I go there to look for food.

The findings of the report have been published as part of The Childhood Trust’s Champions for Children fundraising campaignwhich aims to raise £3.5million by June 28.

This article has been updated on June 18, 2022 to better present the relevant statistics as the results of a specific survey, and not as definitive figures as an earlier version might have implied.


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Edward L. Robinett