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Over a third of children “uncomfortable” talking about mental health

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More than one in three children find it uncomfortable talking about their mental health, a major study has revealed.

The research, published by BBC Children in Need, comes during Mental Health Awareness Week.

According to the survey, over two in three (68 per cent) children and young people’s mental health has declined during the coronavirus pandemic – but one in three (34 per cent) say they “are not comfortable” asking for help.

Of those that would speak to someone, the research found that children are most comfortable speaking to a parent or carer, their friends, or other relatives about their mental health – suggesting that those closest to them should be equipped to discuss sometimes difficult and sensitive issues.

Elsewhere, two-thirds of parents involved in the study say that they “noticed changes when it came to their children’s mental health” for the “very first time”, while just under a third (32 per cent) of parents reported that their children’s worries or anxieties had directly impacted their mood or behaviour since the start of the pandemic.

Commenting on the research, BBC Children in Need Chief Executive, Simon Antrobus, said it is important that mental health is openly discussed.

“This survey clearly shows that children and young people’s mental health and emotional wellbeing has been significantly impacted by the pandemic and that urgent action is needed,” he said.

“Much more needs to be done. What’s also clear is that we can all play a role in addressing early signs of worry and anxiety, by showing children and young people that we’re here to support them and to listen to them.”

The study comes during Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from Monday 10 to Friday 16 May.

Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, the event aims to raise awareness of mental health and the support available to those struggling with issues such as anxiety, low mood, self-harm and suicide.

The latest figures suggest that around one in four people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year, with the most common illnesses being anxiety and depression.