Samantha's story

Samantha, a talented young athlete, shares her experience of mental health problems during coronavirus lockdown. Her and her mother, Louise, want to raise awareness of Childline to support other young people.

"I feel isolated and cut off from the outside world"

"I’m a disabled athlete with a visual impairment and am usually very active. I attend swimming training three times a week and I go to goalball (a blind Paralympic sport) competitions and training up and down the country a few times a month. I have to miss my weekly art classes, and I generally miss the routine of attending school. 

[I miss] being active, attending goalball training and tournaments, my goalball coaching sessions with younger children. Sport definitely helps my mental health so I really miss it when I can’t do it. I’m also sad I’ve had two concerts and many theatre trips cancelled.

"I already suffered from depression and anxiety and that’s been made worse by Corona so now I’m fearful and cry a lot. I’m worried family members will die and I’m scared because it feels like a zombie apocalypse."


Even though my family are here, I feel very lonely. I’m sleepy all time and have lost interest in most daily activities and routines. CAMHS are continuing to support me at home via phone calls, and mum knows they’re there if needed. "

 


Finding ways to cope during lockdown

"My parents are trying very hard to keep me active. We do our daily walk and mum and dad come up with things to keep me interested. We like having a cinema experience at home, so we’ll buy a film on Sky box office and have a big box of popcorn. 

My mum has arranged with my art tutor to continue sessions via FaceTime. I’m doing baking, drawing, puzzles and playing with my cats.

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"When it’s hard to lift your head from the pillow or even open your eyes, just try and set yourself achievable small daily goals. It’s ok to be scared at the news but also talk about what those fears are. As a family, talk through what lockdown really means and why it’s important to stay safe and self-isolate to protect your grandparents and your loved ones. "

It’s the isolation I’ve found difficult. I really miss the routine of a school timetable and my visual impairment means I’ve struggled accessing materials at home. This all has a knock-on effect to my mental health. My school have been brilliant, they’ve kept in touch with me and my mum and one teacher even came around to see me when I was having a particularly difficult time. We sat in the garden and socially distanced and talked things through."

Samantha and her mum have been working with us to raise awareness of Childline, and to encourage young people to speak out about mental health. With lockdown conditions increasing feelings of anxiety and loneliness, it’s more important than ever for children to have somewhere to turn with their concerns.

Childline: supporting young people struggling during lockdown 

Young people like Samantha often turn to Childline for help. During lockdown, a Childline counselling session has taken place every 5 minutes. And still being here for children during this crisis has meant rapidly adapting our services.

Having been a Childline counsellor for 6 years, Omar thinks the isolation of lockdown has put children’s mental health at breaking point. He says Childline have supported young people struggling with missing their friends, having no-one to talk to, or experiencing tensions at home. 

"What I’ve realised is that it’s no longer just about kids who would typically be identified as ‘vulnerable’. In lockdown, all children’s mental health is at greater risk. We are an essential service. We continue to pick up when other services are shutting down or when children are moved on from other services. They don’t have to book an appointment, they don’t have to be referred, they can just pick up the phone and call. "
Omar, Childline counsellor of 6 years.

DISCLAiMER

*This is a true story but photographs have been posed by a model.