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Kate Silverton: London’s children are succumbing to toxic stress

Kate Silverton
·2-min read
 (Dave Benett)
(Dave Benett)

It has been hard to watch the impact of the pandemic on our children, with the revolving door of school closures, home-schooling and isolation.

As a mother I have been focused on my own two, six and nine, aware from my academic studies in child psychology how prolonged “stress” impacts their developing brains.

By stress I mean the unresolved feelings that build up when we experience fear and anxiety on a daily basis, that can disrupt the developing children’s brains and impact health across a lifetime. Psychologists call it toxic stress and London’s children are succumbing to it in vast numbers.

The mental health charities I work alongside tell me all children have been affected by this pandemic, which is why it is vital we support them.

Science shows us that our children can be resilient, that they can overcome adversity if there is a trusted caregiver to help. It can be any trusted person who helps them feel safe and offers a safe space to offload big feelings and feel reassured.

Equally there are many children, like Jason whose story was featured by the Evening Standard last week, who do not feel safe.

With a mother struggling to leave her bed each day, Jason was left to care for his siblings, leaving him overwhelmed and worried for his mother’s welfare.

It led to aggressive outbursts at school in a demonstrative cry for help. For some children, that cry will be answered in the form of mental health counsellors placed in schools by charities like Place2Be with whom the Evening Standard is partnering in this campaign.

I know first-hand the services Place2Be provides in schools because I am training to become a children’s counsellor with them.

Part of my training will see me volunteer on placement in a London primary school next month, counselling one-to-one.

At Place2Be we are trained to create a safe and trusting space for a child, sitting with them while they play and giving their subconscious space to work through feelings. Its mantra is that no child should have to face mental problems alone.

Nelson Mandela said: “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children”. I wonder what history will reveal about our society’s soul when this particular period of history is judged.

Donate today

You can support the Young London SOS campaign by donating to Place2Be HERE

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