Surge in young people in Cornwall suffering mental health crisis as a result of Covid pandemic

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The number of young people being referred to mental health services in Cornwall has risen to its highest level in three years, which experts believe is a result of the Covid pandemic.

Figures seen by ITV News show how lockdowns have affected children and teenagers, leading to a surge in calls about anxiety, depression and loss of confidence.

Rebecca Jagger-Rowden, who runs Razzamataz Theatre School in Plymouth, says the past year has been particularly difficult for teenagers.

Rebecca runs Razzamataz Theatre School in Plymouth. Credit: Rebecca runs Razzamataz Theatre School in Plymouth.

"I've definitely noticed a massive change in anxiety levels and confidence," she said.

"We're really trying to help them, I think any extra-curricular stuff they can do outside of school is fantastic for that.

"We ran online classes form January to March, which were really successful, but being back in person is just amazing, seeing them thrive and doing what they love."New figures show how the pandemic has led to a worrying spike in youngsters seeking help for complex mental health issues.

Lucy Hayes, from Cornwall CAMHS, says clinicians are working hard to help young people. Credit: ITV News

Three years ago, Cornwall's child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) was seeing a monthly average of 73 referrals across the county.

In the last seven months, that has risen to 115 per month, the highest level for three years.

Lucy Hayes, Cornwall CAMHS operations manager, said: "We saw young people becoming very depressed, very anxious about their loved ones, about school. And we've seen a surge in young people coming forward with mental health difficulties who have really suffered.

"We also saw young people lacking in structure, lacking in routine, finding their daily routine had turned upside down and becoming almost nocturnal, having no set routine."

Young people can contact Samaritans or the SHOUT Crisis text line for help Credit: ITV News

While for many of us the end of lockdown is a cause for celebration, experts are warning that a return to socialising and school and college could cause some to experience increased anxiety.

"There is a cohort of young people who find change and transitions very difficult indeed," Lucy added.

"So we're offering a lot of support to them in coming back to everyday life.

If you need help for a mental health crisis, emergency or breakdown, or if you are worried about someone else, you should get immediate expert advice and assessment.

These services offer confidential advice from trained volunteers.

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