ONE in six children has suffered mental health issues during the pandemic, according to the Children’s Commissioner’s annual report.

In her latest briefing Anne Longfield said a cocktail of education disruption, isolation from friends, limited chances to play and worry about the impact of the virus on their families had taken a heavy toll on some children.

In her state of mental health services report she said: "A staggering one in six children now have a probable mental health condition.

"We do not know how far this spike will have long term consequences on children’s mental health, nor do we know the impact of further lockdowns, but it is highly likely that the level of underlying mental health problems will remain significantly higher as a result of the pandemic."

Parents and teachers have spoken out about the crisis and are urging people to look out for the signs.

One Swindon dad has responded by launching a befriending service to help children socialise with others.

Samuel Robbins, who runs the Swindon and Wiltshire Mental Health Support Group on Facebook, said: “A mum spoke to me about her son who has been suffering, he was very lonely and didn’t have any friends.

"I offered to speak to him and give him support which I hope will work out and make him feel better.

"My eyes have been opened to the fact that children do suffer from mental health problems. It’s very different in adults. The signs and symptoms are different and children can hide it easier.”

The befriending scheme comes as Children’s Mental Health Week gets under way.

“We’ve got some volunteers who will make time in their week for people who need someone to speak to. Many people are struggling with their mental health at the moment, including children,” Samuel said.

“It’s a way to get people to connect to each other, if two people have the same interests then it can help make a match and make it easier for them to talk to each other. It’s a private group so anyone who joins doesn’t have to worry that what’s posted will be seen outside of the group."

This past year has been tough on young people. Most have had to adapt to learning online. They have missed out on exams and socialising with their friends. Sport, youth groups and leisure facilities are also out.

Schools are aware of the problem and have introduced measures to support their pupils.

“The mental health of our students is of paramount importance," assistant head teacher of Bradon Forest School, Paul Dipple, said. “It is crucial that a school provides a strong platform for the mental health and wellbeing of their students all year round, we take pride in ensuring this at Bradon Forest.”

The school makes frequent calls to students as part of its wellbeing checks. And there is a school counsellor who works with several students regularly.

Principal at Gorse Hill Primary School, Joanne Lewis, said: "We believe that, particularly at this time, the mental health of our pupils and also our parent community should be taken as seriously as any other threat to their health and wellbeing. With the majority of pupils learning remotely, we’ve placed emphasis on making sure our class teachers can provide one-to-one feedback and support with their pupils.

“We want every pupil to know that we are always here to discuss any problems they are facing, whether in person, in school, or online.”

Tregoze Primary School head Helen Tudor said: “Every year at Tregoze we celebrate Children’s Mental Health Week, and mental health is at the forefront of everything we do. Each term we have a different positive value, and it is currently kindness.

Each Wednesday at Tregoze is Wellbeing Wednesday, and this week we are following the national theme of Express Yourself and we will all be wearing our favourite clothes and doing fun art activities in our online lessons and in school. All pupils at Tregoze receive live lessons, and we do everything we can to make every child feel as connected as possible to everyone at the school.”

Children's Mental Health Week runs until February 8. For information and resources visit

Support is also available at or