A Richmond trust launched an appeal to the community, in light of Children’s Mental Health Week amid growing concern about the impact of lockdown on young people.
Richmond upon Thames Voluntary Fund, a charitable trust chaired by Gillian Norton, former Chief Executive of Richmond Council, was set up to gather donations from residents for vulnerable groups.
With reports that approximately one in six children have probable mental health disorders, the trust announced renewed support for charities helping young people this Children’s Mental Health Week.
Norton, who also chairs several other trusts including Epsom St Helier Hospitals, said: “Demand on children and youth mental health services has always increased every year, but now we are seeing a huge increase in demand every day.
“The evidence shows if young people don’t get the help they need when they are young, there are huge ramifications in later life.
“We simply cannot let the pandemic ruin the future of our children and young people.”
Funds gathered by the trust will help four charities: Off the Record, Richmond Borough Mind, Marble Hill Playcentres and Dose of Nature.
Deborah Kerpner, manager at Off the Record, said: “A third of the young people in Richmond borough come to us at Off the Record for help.
“They come from all backgrounds, struggling with depression, isolation, loneliness, bereavement and anxieties about relationships, health and finances.”
Among those helped by the charity, 36% are self-harming and 30% feel suicidal.
Kerpner added that the pre-existing issues have been exasperated by lack of social contact in lockdown.
Her estimation echoed growing national fears for the mental state of young people trapped at home during the pandemic.
According to Young Minds, a young people’s mental health charity, 40% out of 2,011 young people surveyed had no school counsellor support available.
The same survey found that only 27% of respondents had spoken to a teacher one-to-one about their wellbeing.
Cllr Robin Brown, a trustee for the Richmond Voluntary Fund, insisted help from the community has become increasingly vital.
Brown said: “In addition to the continued Government cuts to our budget, we are now facing a major shortfall as a result of the COVID-19 response.
“At the end of 2020 this shortfall was £6 million, but as we continue to face an indefinite lockdown, this figure is rapidly increasing.
“We simply cannot do this alone.”
Featured image: Kelly Sikkema