Mental Health vs Saving Lives: a false dichotomy

No-one likes lockdowns or the negative impacts they bring, particularly for the most vulnerable our society. It is for this reason that Parents United campaign for effective lockdowns which will limit those effects, alongside safe schools to prevent lockdowns happening at all. 

A dichotomous debate exists around suppression of the virus, and limiting of other – very serious – harms. Yet, they are two sides of the same coin – and investment is the underlying solution to the whole spectrum of issues here. 

The significant harm to vulnerable children in lockdown serves to highlight the pre-existing inadequacy of support services for those children. Meanwhile, the reality that all social measures have both positive and negative impacts is lost. 

Throughout our work with families we have seen concern from young people about their safety in school, and significant levels of worry relating to bringing the virus home to a vulnerable parent.

We have also had many parents report that their children have flourished academically and emotionally at home with one-to-one attention, creative opportunities and escape from bullying and academic pressure / testing.

Loss of learning is not everyone’s experience. We would suggest that the positive outcomes experienced by such families should be considered worthy of attention, to build a more balanced picture of the impact of lockdown.

Perhaps they could even be be extended upon to improve the learning experience for all. 

Where do we go from here?

We are concerned that if a holistic understanding of the implications of lockdown, school safety and the imperative for catch-up on the Mental Health of young people is not achieved, we will fail the next generation even further still. 

What will happen to the plight of vulnerable children who should have been identified for and provided a school place, but for whom services were already short? Will they be forgotten when there is no longer a pandemic to hang that hat on? 

Similarly, what will happen to the mental health of children as a whole should the narrative to pursue catch up at all costs persists? What will be the personal cost for those children and young people, if the emphasis on improving wellbeing – so fundamental to health and academic success – is not achieved?

We would like to see a more open debate, seated in a determination to work together and limit all harms experienced by children and young people. By necessity, this must include effective suppression of Covid-19: this would limit the amount of time young people spend both living lockdown, and in a nation ravaged by Covid-19.

Today we agreed to sign an Open Letter by Mental Health Media Charter, which perfectly expresses our concern around the use of mental health issues being used as a justification to end lockdowns, and calls for responsible reporting in this area.

We strongly encourage any charity representatives, academics, experts, campaigners, service users and people with lived mental health experience to add their signature. Please Mental Health Media Charter contact by direct message on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

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