Demand for mental health support for young people increases in Reading, Wokingham and West Berkshire

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Mel Bloor

Specialists that work with children say demand for crisis and eating disorder services increased in Reading, Wokingham and West Berkshire during the first lockdown.

No5, a youth counselling service in Reading, has told ITV Meridian that in September and October, requests for help rose by 126% compared to the previous year.

There are now growing concerns about the impact the second lockdown might have on young people's mental health. 

Carly Newman from No5 Young People says: "Lockdown has meant that young people who are normally seen by teachers and other support staff, aren't being seen regularly, or weren't being seen regularly, and so issues went on for longer without being noticed. And that's also being seen in disordered eating as well as self harm."

The average rate for self-harm hospital admissions for 10 to 24 year olds in England stands at 444 admissions per 100,000 people.

But in October 2019, it was revealed that Reading (517.7), Wokingham (529.3) and West Berkshire (483.9) have all recorded higher admission rates.

18-year-old Hannah Pither from Reading was diagnosed with OCD in 2016. She says her anxiety levels soared during the first lockdown.

Hannah says: "It was quite overwhelming. It meant that I really struggled to try and find my path, you know, because I'd been told by my therapists that I needed to reduce the amount I washed my hands, because it was making me more unwell, to then be told that I needed to increase it. It put me in a position where I was really uncertain as to what to do."

18-year-old Hannah Pither from Reading was diagnosed with OCD in 2016. Credit: ITV Meridian

In October, ambassadors from No5 Young People published a report on the experiences of young people during lockdown. It can be found here.

A survey by Public Health England found that two-thirds of parents say their children’s behaviour has changed since the start of the pandemic (69%) and when asked their top 3 worries around COVID-19, over half (52%) said the mental wellbeing of their children topped the list of their biggest worries.

In September, PHE launched the Every Mind Matters campaign, providing both advice for young people as well as parents, guardians and family members.

If you are a young person who is affected by any of these issues, below is a list of some of the organisations that can provide support: