Supporting people so vital in these toughest of times

SOME say there’s too much of the ‘nanny state’ in the lockdown arrangements but others argue that delayed responses have made things worse.

I was left pondering this after I addressed a recent conference on children and young people’s mental health. There’s a great deal of focus on that issue these days but it wasn’t something we talked about when I was a lad.

The view of my much-loved Irish grandmother, if you’d raised concerns about depression or anxiety, would have been to pull yourself together and get on with it.

What should we fear most, a nanny state or leaving people to get on with it?

The Mental Health Foundation has been looking at the impact of the pandemic. It found that those aged 18-24 are most likely to suffer stress, a sense of hopelessness and suicidal thoughts. The latest statistics show the suicide rate among young men has increased by 30 per cent, yet despite a substantial review, it’s still very difficult for them to access support. That same study reported that older people seem to be coping better with the pandemic, even though so many in that age group have lost their lives.

Could it be that those who grew up with rationing and the deprivations of post war Britain are better at getting on with it?

Despite such grit, the study also pointed out that loneliness can be a real issue for this generation. It was a problem before the pandemic but a combination of lockdown and the closure of lunch clubs, bingo sessions and communal activities have all made matters worse.

It shouldn’t be a trade-off between nannying and self-reliance. We all need help sometimes.

We shouldn’t ignore troubled adolescents and we mustn’t turn our back on loneliness.

A lot of people have died during this pandemic and many of us will need help coming to terms with our grief in the months and years ahead.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it should be that calibrating the right level of intervention can be difficult but leaving people to their own devices isn’t really an option.

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