Top NHS Doctor urges parents to be alert as children could experience anxiety, distress during lockdown


Professor Prathiba Chitsabesan
Professor Prathiba Chitsabesan

NHS England’s top doctor has urged parents to be alert to signs as children could experience anxiety, distress or low mood when they return to school after months away.

Britain partially reopened schools on Monday (1).

Professor Prathiba Chitsabesan, associate national clinical director for children and young people’s mental health of NHS England has pointed out that lockdown will have increased pressure on parents and children as young people unable to see friends.

According to her, the signs that parents should look out for include, more upset or find it hard to manage their emotions, may appear anxious or distressed, increasing trouble with sleeping and eating, appearing low in mood, withdrawn or tearful, worried or negative thoughts about themselves or their future and bed wetting.

“Children and young people may be experiencing a variety of feelings in response to the coronavirus pandemic, including anxiety, distress and low mood, and it is important to understand that these are normal responses to an abnormal situation,” said Prof Chitsabesan.

“The NHS offers a large amount of mental health support for children and young people, and if a child needs urgent mental health support or advice, check nhs.uk for services in your area, including 24/7 crisis support.”

She said that parents can help children in many ways including making time to talk, allowing child to talk about their feelings, provide reassurance that you have heard them and are there to help, try to keep a routine over the next few weeks and help the child to do positive activities.

NHS England has issued advice on what parents should look out for and steps that they can take to look after their child’s mental health, based on advice from clinicians and first-hand experience from patients and parents.

Parents should contact NHS 111 online or a GP immediately if they notice any physical injuries on a child, such as deep cuts or burns, an official statement said.

Claire Murdoch, NHS England national mental health director said: “We know that children and young people’s lives have been disrupted during these uncertain times, and some may be suffering from anxiety as schools reopen.

“The NHS is open for business as usual and has adapted to the coronavirus crisis through offering flexible options including phone and video consultations and online support.”