The delay in the return of children and adolescents in schools is a “national disaster” that puts their mental health in danger, say the psychologists of the first rank.
In an open letter addressed to the secretary of Education Gavin Williamson, they argue that the isolation of the lock-in night for young people who are already vulnerable.
Highlighting the low risk for children of Covide-19, they ask that the measures of social distancing are reduced to the minimum.
And for a return to a normal life.
In the letter, signed by more than 100 specialists in psychology, mental health and neuroscience, and published in the Sunday Times, they write : “as experts working in all disciplines, we are united then we urge you to reconsider your decision and release children and youth from the lockdown.
“Allow them to play together and to continue their education by returning to school, kindergarten, school, college and university, and take advantage of extracurricular activities, including sports and music, as quickly as possible. “
Increase in anxiety and loneliness
It follows an opinion article in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health who warned against the long-term detrimental consequences of a lack of contact between young people and their peers.
Professor Ellen Townsend, a professor of psychology at the University of Nottingham, who organized the letter, said that mental health problems such as anxiety were already on the rise among young people before the lockout.
She told the BBC that there was evidence that the feelings of increasing loneliness and social isolation in the wake of the closure of schools during the pandemic might worsen it, particularly among teenagers.
And she describes having heard “heart-breaking stories of” children who are struggling.
The letter also indicates the evidence that children are at low risk of Covide-19.
“Suicide is already the leading cause of death in the 5-19 age group in England and the second leading cause of death among young people in the world; fortunately, Covide-19 will take ever so many young lives,” he says.
The letter goes on to say that the children are “neglected in this crisis” and that ” their future must now be a priority “.
Schools were closed across the Uk on march 20, in order to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Apart from the children of key workers, the majority of children have not been to school since then and will not enter a classroom until after the summer holidays.
A small number of primary school children are back in England, but only in small groups.
“onséquences to life “
Among the signatories of the letter included Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, professor of psychology at the University of Cambridge, Professor Rory O’connor, a professor of health psychology at the University of Glasgow, professor Tanya Byron and the author, professor Tanya Byron and professor Uta Frith, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London.
Now, young people must be included in the decisions that concern them, they say.
“We need to recognize the sacrifice that the children have already done for others and we should not ask that sacrifice be continued.
“When many of these cohorts enter adulthood, we will be in a recession, so that they have to have mental resilience and preparedness education.
“Instead, we nussons at once, with lifelong consequences for them and for the society “, concludes the letter.