Kids helpline often called for emotional support in second lockdown
In the second coronavirus lockdown, kids are calling the children's helpline much more often about emotional problems than they did in the first lockdown, the Kindertelefoon reported. Between December 14 and January 10, the number of conversations about depression increased by 21 percent, compared to the first lockdown in the spring. Conversations about loneliness and suicide increased by almost a third, NOS reports.
"During the first lockdown we saw many normal subjects, but with a corona jacket," Kindertelefoon director Roline de Wilde said. "Questions like: can I still visit my grandmother? The difference now is that there are really many more conversations about mental problems."
The Kindertelefoon also compared its figures with the previous winter, to check for a seasonal effect. But even then, conversations about emotional problems increased significantly. For example, the helpline received 17 calls a day about suicidal thoughts in January 2020. In the first lockdown there were 16 such calls per day. And now it's 21.
As in the first lockdown, children most often called the helpline to talk about sexuality, but the number of conversations about relationships and love is now overshadowed by emotional problems. Calls about falling in love decreased by 25 percent, about friendship by 32 percent, and about heartbreak by 31 percent compared to the first lockdown. De Wilde is very worried about this. "That says that young people are having a hard time across the board. You see the number of heavy conversations increasing," she said.
The strict coronavirus measures are hard on the youngest part of the population, child psychologist Tischa Neve said to NOS. "With the first lockdown, everything was exciting and now. But now children also wonder: will this ever end?"
In addition to losing perspective, many children are also facing a deteriorating home situation, Neve said. "Parents themselves find it more difficult and worry more. People closer to them are getting infected with the coronavirus or get into financial difficulties. Of course you will always notice that in families." And where kids could usually discuss these issues at school with friends or a teacher, that is not an option now. "Things that children can normally carry easily because they have a distraction are now more difficult. That can make you feel worse."
As this is an unprecedented situation, Neve can't say for certain what the long-term effects will be. But she expects that most children with a good foundation will bounce back when schools reopen. "Children are generally very resilient. But for children who have problems at home or who were already struggling to survive in society, such a period comes on top of that. I am most concerned about that."
For these children, the most important thing is that those around them are extra alert, Neve said to the broadcaster. "Parents and teachers must keep a close eye on things: how are children and young people really doing?" she said. "If there is a loving environment, the vast majority of problems will be rectified."