Three campaigners from the mental health charity YoungMinds share their stories in our final report on this year’s Guardian and Observer fundraising appeal, which raised £ 1,050,000.
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The world had changed when Lucas came out of the hospital.
It was late March and after six weeks of care for sepsis, the 19-year old was admitted for sepsis.
Lucas, like most adolescents, relied on social interaction, but routines were also required for his autism.
Tuesday was brass band night; Wednesday, the St. John Ambulance gathered together; Monday meant dog agility lessons. Training for Lancashire’s inclusive rugby team, the Typhoons, was on Thursdays and Fridays.
Suddenly, nothing was there. It collapsed his mental health.
“It was a really overwhelming world.
I really could no longer cope.
I had a couple of very serious mental health crises between March and May and ended up in an inpatient hospital.
It wasn’t safe for me to be alone at home. It’s an understatement to say I fought through Covid,’ says Lucas.
Against the backdrop of a spreading pandemic, it is a fraught tale that young people around the world are witnessing.
An entire generation has been destabilized by alienation, apprehension and confusion about the future.
The YoungMinds charity, whose aim is to prevent the mental health of young people from reaching a point of distress and to which Lucas turned for assistance, has seen a phenomenal demand for its services.
In 2020, YoungMinds contacted more than 2.5 million young people, parents, caregivers and clinicians either online or through its specialized counseling centers.
In the last 12 months, the number of calls and emails to the confidential parent helpline has grown by 43 percent for those worried about a young person suffering from anxiety, frustration and suicidal thoughts. Usage of the Find Aid page of the charity increased by 48 per cent .
Compared to 2019, demand for grief and loss information grew by more than 150 percent.
“The impact of the pandemic on young people has been significant, and evidence suggests it could be long-term.” said Emma Thomas, YoungMinds chief executive.
Covid wiped out support networks and coping strategies more immediately. Especially susceptible are those who endured abuse in childhood and adolescence.
After caring for his mother and spending time in foster care, Lucas started dealing with his mental health at age 12.
Many of those contacting YoungMinds mention issues that occurred at a comparable age.
Since suffering anxiety and depression, Cassianne was 11 when she started self-harming. “My self-esteem was low, and I became withdrawn, which left me with a lot of time to be in my thoughts.” To try to make sense of her emotions, she started using social media.
For people in troubled states talking about their lives, there were a number of accounts.
I got more and more involved, I got so lost in it,’ Cassianne says, now 19.
While she finally sought support from her primary care doctor, new concerns were caused by the pandemic.
She started studying law at the University of Hertfordshire in September.
Instead of making new friends and a stimulating experience, in an atmosphere where few seemed interested, Cassianne found herself alienated by her fear of contracting Covid-19.
Many people didn’t worry about the virus, they went to parties, they went back to my house.
I have developed a great deal of anxiety.
I was washing everything and panicking.
I didn’t want to leave my place, I didn’t want to go to the kitchen in the community.
Similarly disturbing was Abbey’s time studying criminology at the University of Salford.
She lost all inspiration after her course was transferred completely online.
“I found it almost impossible to concentrate, which caused me to fall behind.
I was also away from home, with nowhere to go and nothing to do, which made me extremely lonely. The government completely neglected university students during the pandemic, especially in terms of mental health,” the 21-year-old said.
Abbey, 21, also struggled with mental health issues early on, suffering from anxiety and insomnia at age 10.
At age 13, she began self-harming.
The cause was bullying at school. “I didn’t used to care how I looked or how much I weighed, but the constant b…