'Significant challenges ahead' for mental health of children in Northamptonshire due to pandemic, health experts warn

Library picture, Lucy Wightman, director of health in NorthamptonshireLibrary picture, Lucy Wightman, director of health in Northamptonshire
Library picture, Lucy Wightman, director of health in Northamptonshire
Health authorities already planning ahead for impact of lockdown and other restrictions

The mental health of young people in Northamptonshire is a great concern for the future, health experts said today, Friday.

This week is Children's Mental Health Week and the issue was addressed at the weekly Public Health Northamptonshire press conference. The question was asked by this newspaper as to how concerned were there about the impact of lockdown, what were the medium and long-term effects and what was being done to address it.

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Director of health, Lucy Wightman, said the issue was high on the agenda for chief executives of health authorities in the county.

"One of the things we discuss is the need to plan not just for the now, but preparing for what will be significant challenges in the medium and long term," Ms Wightman said.

"These challenges range from the impact of missing school, all the way through to significant mental health issues," she added.

Plans on how to address this will be announced in the near future.

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Paul Andrews, Covid education lead at Northamptonshire County Council, said schools had been working hard to support pupils and had access to online support services from the health authorities.

"We are working with all partners to mitigate the risk and impact of all of this. It will take a while to understand the depth of the issues and what we need to do," he said.

Councillor Jonathan Nunn, leader of Northampton Borough Council, said he was very concerned about the future impact of the pandemic on mental health.

He said the virus had been "horribly unfair" to young people at a time in their lives when the adult they would grow up to be was being developed.

"Some of the impact comes out post-trauma - and this is a trauma - once your realise the extent of the impact. It is yet to be clear what this will be," he said.