The rising cost of living has had an impact on the mental health of children, with rising numbers thinking of self-harming and suicide, a recent report has shown.
Researchers from the charity The Childhood Trust released a 33-page national report into the effects of the living crisis and have stated that millions of children have reached “breaking point”, warning that the country is on the brink of a mental health emergency. The report consists of data from a national survey, other charities and interviews with children and their parents.
The report found that the impact of money worries for British families has caused 47% of children to feel stressed, while 21% of parents said their children smile less because of the financial squeeze.
However, some of the most concerning statistics from the report was that 9% of children have begun self-harming and 8% have had suicidal thoughts.
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One seven-year-old girl from London named Laura stated to the study team: “I ask my mother if we’ve any food and she’ll tell me if there’s enough money.
“If there isn’t then I just go in the cupboards and see if there’s something. If there’s a snack, I’ll eat it and try to go to bed. Tomorrow she might have more money.”
Chief executive of the charity, Laurence Guinness, warned that the crisis could cause a significant number of financial stable families to enter poverty and have a “disastrous” effect.
“A lot of kids are finding themselves in this appalling situation for the first time,” he stated. “They are deeply, deeply ashamed and embarrassed and worried about their predicament.
“Two or three kids in a class of 30 are self-harming because they are so anxious about their living situation, about whether their parents can pay the bills or whether they are going to be able to have a shower that night.
“One little boy told me he can only shower once a week now and his mum stands by the side of the shower to make sure it isn’t a long one either.”
Psychotherapist at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital NHS Trust, Susan Rudnick, said: “What we’re seeing here because of the cost of living crisis is an exacerbation of issues such as self-harming and suicidal ideation. Young people are feeling like they’re losing all hope. They’re struggling to find an available adult that can help and support them because parents and families are in such crisis.”
The rise in living costs has affected millions of families across the UK and has had an especially negative outcome of those on low incomes. The government has previously announced plans to curb the effects of the crisis with a £15bn package which includes a one-off £650 cost-of-living payment. However, Laurence Guinness has criticised the government’s response comparing it to a “sticking plaster on a gaping wound of growing inequality”.
More recently, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £500m increase in the Household Support Fund, extending it from October until March of 2023.
The Childhood Trust has launched a third Champions for Children campaign in which they hope to raise around £3.5 million to help those most in need.
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