Covid is creating another health crisis with increasing numbers of young people being medicated for depression – following isolation and months out of the classroom, an MP has warned.
Tatton MP Esther McVey said children need normality and stability and urged Government to end the “madness” of self-isolation and keep children in the classroom.
Speaking in Parliament she said the long term damage to children went far beyond missing out on learning.
She said: “Last week 375,000 pupils were off school through self-isolation and there has been a 40 per cent increase in anti-depressants being prescribed to the under 17 year olds.
“Given that children are extremely unlikely to suffer serious ill health as a result of catching Covid and given the damage being done to their education and their mental health isn’t it time we stopped this self-isolation madness and get all pupils in the classroom where they belong?”
Ms McVey made the comments during an urgent question in Parliament following the revelations of rising numbers of pupils missing school each week.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said Ms McVey was right to raise the issue around children’s mental health and Government was committed to helping students and staff.
He added: “The best way of helping children and all staff with their mental health is having schools functioning as normally as possible and that is why we have always been clear that when we are in a position to remove those restrictions to be able to make those changes and actually make it easier for schools to operate as normally as possible we will always take those steps, at the earliest possible stage.”
Mr Williamson told MPs the Government hopes to lift school restrictions and bubbles as part of step 4 of exiting lockdown on July 19.
Ms McVey has been warning of the growing mental health crisis among children since the start of the pandemic.