17 Nov We Can’t Leave Our Kids’ Mental Health Up To Marcus Rashford
Marcus Rashford’s recent campaign to stop ‘holiday hunger’ brought out the best in many communities across England – including Bedford. Over a million people signed a petition asking the government to support Rashford’s request. Restaurants and cafes across England delivered packed lunches for children in vulnerable families. In a time of polarised politics – this was a cause the majority wanted to support.
Three weeks later, the government acceded to the footballer’s request. £170 million has been made available to support vulnerable children through the extension of school activities and meals throughout the holidays up to Christmas 2021.
Why Eradicating Food Poverty is so Important
The Bedford Food Bank has seen its users increase by 40% over the past year. This means that increasing numbers of children in the town are dependent on free school meals for their daily nutrition. We now know that food insecurity is one of the “key factors that affect mental health at all stages of life” In young children it is likely to cause anxiety and stress. Whilst in teenagers the potential risks are more acute, leading to depression and – in some cases – suicide.
If we don’t address food insecurity amongst children now, they could be dealing with the trauma for the rest of their lives. And the already stretched children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS, now renamed CYPMHS) will struggle to provide resources to support them.
The Link Between Poverty and Mental Health Problems
Mental health problems such as stress, anxiety, depression, drug dependency or eating disorders can be experienced at any age, in any sector of society. However, the World Health Organisation suggests that access to support and help can reduce the potential for escalation of mental health issues. Whilst lack of access to resources can exacerbate those same problems.
“Men and women in the poorest fifth of the population are twice as likely to be at risk of developing mental health problems… young people aged 10 to 15 years with low socio-economic status had a 2.5 higher prevalence of anxiety or depressed mood than their peers with high socio-economic status”
Risks for Children Growing Up in Vulnerable Families
Whilst food insecurity is one of the risks faced by children growing up in vulnerable households, the World Health Organisation has listed a number of factors that can traumatise children as young as 3 years old:
- Uncertain access to accommodation, water, sanitation, food, due to lack of money
- Parent who are unemployed, or low-waged and therefore anxious
- Unavailable parents due to stress and depression
- Parents unable to access government benefits, or who don’t understand the system
- Ongoing uncertainty and family trauma
Marcus Rashford’s campaign ends one anxiety for these kids, but it isn’t the solution. And we can’t depend on Marcus Rashford alone to fight this battle. Each one of the problems faced by children in vulnerable families is also an opportunity for positive intervention. Organisations like End Child Poverty ensure we can all play our part in making that intervention happen at an early stage.
About Bedfordshire Supported Housing
BSH offers residential care facilities for people with complex mental health needs. Our services offer support and care in order to enable them to live with a high degree of well-being in the community. We place an emphasis on enabling our residents to exert choice and independence, through the creation of their own aims and goals whilst staying with us.
If you would like more information about BHS residential care, please take a look at our website – https://www.bedssupportedhousing.co.uk/residential-care – or call our team on 01234 841808