The Children’s Alliance is calling for a National UK Strategy for Play to support the emotional recovery and resilience of children affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The group’s latest report on child mental health argues that the primary need for ‘Generation Covid’ is not educational attainment, but emotional recovery and the fostering of resilience. Drawing on the large body of evidence outlining the scale of the mental health crisis among young people as well as research on the benefits of play the report states:
“Children and young people were not a priority in the early stages of the pandemic. Whilst children and young people were considered to be at ‘low health risk’ but this did not account for the seriousness of mental health issues.”
Recommendations include the provision of a centrally funded, national network of play spaces; statutory national in-school counselling/play therapy services; and the development of a National UK Strategy for Play.
The report says that government investment in children’s play should be seen as a public health measure, which would bring benefits far outweighing the ‘relatively modest’ financial investment required. It calls for every child in the UK, including those with additional needs, should have spaces close to home where they can play and to enjoy the mental health benefits of outdoor activity. It states:
“It is important to acknowledge that the present crisis in children and young people’s mental health has been years in the making. The Covid-19 pandemic would not have had such a devastating impact on children’s wellbeing if their mental health had not been historically neglected in successive government decision-making. The number and quality of public play opportunities has seen an alarming decline in recent years and the UK as a whole has no national play strategy. A nationally co-ordinated, sustained investment in children’s play should be a key component of any ‘Build Back Better’ or ‘Levelling Up’ strategy.”
For the full report click here