There is no doubt that the last couple of years has been challenging for us all. Yet, whilst the indiscriminate nature of the pandemic and everything that came with it, reminded us that in spite of anything, we are all human and all are affected, we were also faced with the reality that for some, the effects were felt more acutely.
In some geographical areas, social care referrals related to mental health and domestic abuse/violence, increased by 200% during the lockdowns. Being locked down in a spacious and calm environment, is quite different to being ‘trapped’ in a home lacking space, with increased food bills and decreased income, perhaps loss of employment and maybe a lack of electronic devices to meet everyone’s home working and home-schooling needs. Some families were in a ‘pressure cooker’ situation and were not able to find any reprieve, for some this led to untenable, if not devastating situations.
Parental mental ill health is a known adverse childhood experience (ACE) and can affect so many aspects of family life. This is not to say that this would be a reason for a child to be referred to social care system but alongside other ACEs and without intervention or support, pre-existing issues were exacerbated during the pandemic. It doesn’t take much of an imaginative leap to see how this could impact the fostering world. To add to this, there have been less foster carers coming forward, so meeting increased need has been challenging for everyone.
A further consideration is that foster carers were also facing the issues and consequences. The impact upon children of disrupted routines, reduced opportunities for social activity, compromised education and many support visits going ‘virtual’, invariably took its toll. Emotional and mental resilience was yet more necessary and no doubt foster carers felt an extra layer of pressure, in spite of their obligations.
At Chrysalis Care, we invest in supporting the resilience of our foster carers, so that they can effectively nurture resilience in the children and young people they care for.
To ignore the impact of the last two years upon our individual and collective mental health, prevents us all from having a crucial conversation and taking necessary action when and where people need it. This is how we begin to change the narrative related to mental health.