News 2021: 10 items (Health and Wellbeing)

21/09/2021: Children face ‘agonising’ waits for mental health care

Children struggling with mental health problems during the pandemic are facing “agonisingly” long waits for treatment, a BBC investigation has found. Data from half of England’s specialist child mental health services found one in five youngsters seen since Covid hit waited longer than 12 weeks for care. The numbers still waiting also appear to be rising sharply.

Read: BBC

21/09/2021: Young people ‘at risk of repeat homelessness’ if £20 Universal Credit uplift cut, charities warn

Cutting the £20-a-week Universal Credit increase will put young people at risk of repeat homelessness, more than 40 charities have warned. They have written a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak urging him not to remove the Universal Credit (UC) uplift at the end of the month. Led by Centrepoint and End Youth Homelessness, the letter says the increase has been a “lifeline” after it was temporarily introduced to help claimants during the coronavirus pandemic.

Read: Sky

20/09/2021: Autism therapy aimed at infants may reduce likelihood of later diagnosis

Doctors have shown for the first time that a new therapy aimed at infants can reduce autistic behaviour and the likelihood the children will go on to be diagnosed with autism before they reach school age. Infants who received the therapy after displaying early signs of potential autism, such as avoiding eye contact and not responding to their name, were one-third as likely to have autism diagnosed at the age of three, compared with those who had standard care, the researchers found.

Read: Guardian

19/09/2021: Child poverty now costs Britain £38bn a year, says new independent report

The findings, to be released in the next few days, will add to concerns over government plans to end the £20-a-week uplift for universal credit, as MPs of all parties voice concerns that a cut will hit low-income families with children particularly hard. The new research, by Professor Donald Hirsch of Loughborough University, is the third study of its kind he has conducted over the past 15 years.

Read: Guardian

18/09/2021: ‘I felt my body wasn’t good enough’: teenage troubles with Instagram

Internal research by Facebook that found its Instagram app worsens body image issues for young users has been leaked, revealing how aware the social media giant is of its product’s effect on mental health. According to leaked documents, research by the company over the last two years has consistently found that the photo-sharing platform is harmful to a large proportion of its users – particularly teenage girls.

Read: Guardian

15/09/2021: Disadvantaged children least confident being active, research warns

Children from low-income backgrounds are far less confident in being active and taking part in sport, according to the Youth Sport Trust. The Trust found that only around half of 11- to 16-year-olds from low income groups rated themselves as confident taking part in physical activity.

13/09/2021: Sharp rise in acute medical beds occupied by children with nowhere else to go

A third of all children’s acute hospital beds in parts of England are being occupied by vulnerable children who do not need acute medical care but have nowhere else to go, safeguarding experts have warned. Doctors say they feel like very expensive “babysitters” for vulnerable children, many of whom are in care but whose placements have broken down because of their violent and self-harming behaviour.

Read: Guardian

10/09/2021: Why you need to be teaching sexual citizenship

Teaching pupils to engage positively with their sexual identity is key to tackling sexual harassment, says one expert. “It’s really hard to talk to young people about what makes sex safe if you’re not going to talk about pleasure,” says sex and relationships adviser Jonny Hunt.

Read: Sky

09/09/2021: Scouts rolls out Squirrels programme for pre-school children

Scouts has launched a UK-wide roll out of its ‘Squirrels’ programme for four- to five-year-olds, with a focus on communities most impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. The initiative launches in 200 areas across the UK and follows a pilot that began in 2019, which focused on supporting areas of deprivation and Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

08/09/2021: Special-needs support beyond crisis, heads say

Support for pupils who have special needs is “beyond crisis” in England and “sucking money from budgets” for all children, a report says. Nearly all schools (97%) responding to a survey by a head teachers’ union said they received insufficient funding to support pupils who had special needs. The National Association of Head Teachers says funding has to rise so all pupils can be supported to learn.

Read: BBC

08/09/2021: Pandemic and online pressures drive decline in girls’ happiness

There has been a significant decline in happiness among girls and young women over the past three years, with the impact of the pandemic and online harms major factors, a survey by Girlguiding has found. The uniformed youth charity’s latest Girls’ Attitudes Survey reveals the proportion of girls who describe themselves as being “happy most of the time” fell to 63 per cent in 2021, down from 81 per cent in 2018.

07/09/2021: New Tool For Anonymous Reporting Of Unsafe Areas

The Home Office and the National Police Chief’s Council have just launched a new tool called StreetSafe for anyone to anonymously tell the police about public places where they have felt or feel unsafe, because of environmental issues, eg street lighting, abandoned buildings or vandalism and/or because of some behaviours, eg being followed or verbally abused. The service is being launched as a pilot and the police are making it clear that it is not to be used for report crime or other specific incidents. This is because the tool is designed to be anonymous, so the police would not be able to respond in any case.

03/09/2021: UK Youth launches project to shape mental health support for young black people

A new project will see young people who have experienced poor mental health and racial injustice shape the way support is delivered. The Young Changemakers programme will see 16- to 25-year-olds “given the opportunity to change mental health support for the better and affect real change”, according to UK Youth, which is behind the initiative.

31/08/2021: One million children missing out on free school meals, research shows

More than one million children living in poverty across the UK are missing out on free school meals due to eligibility criteria, a report warns. The research from Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) and Covid Realities shows that 36 per cent of all school-aged children living in poverty in the UK are not entitled to a free meal at school.

26/08/2021: Rural areas hardest hit by youth work cuts, NYA warns

Cuts to youth work services in rural areas have left young people at risk of grooming from criminal gangs, poor mental health and a lack of employment support, according to a new report.