Food Poverty and Youth Mental Health
Between 1st April and 31st March 2022, the Trussell Trust’s UK network distributed 2.1 million food parcels to people in crisis. An increase of 14% compared to the previous year. 832,000 of these went to children.
Poverty and young people
As someone who works in mental health, I began to consider the impact this situation may be having on children’s wellbeing.
Buttle UK surveyed 1000+ child support workers:
- 65% reported that poverty has a high negative impact on children’s mental health.
- 60% reported that poverty has a high negative impact on children’s self-esteem.
Living in a safe, warm, and secure home with enough food to eat is fundamental to providing a physically and mentally healthy childhood but for many, this has become increasingly challenging.
BBC Children in Need recently reported that 30% of children worry about their families having enough money to live.
I spoke to a fourteen-year-old who comes weekly to the community fridge. She explained:
My Mum fell on hard times about two years ago and we have been relying on the food bank ever since. At first, I was ashamed and found it difficult, children at school bullied me for being poor. I was also anxious about Mum. But now it is just normal, and I’m grateful for the help we receive.
I spoke to an adult who had previously experienced poverty as a child to gain an insight into the long-term effects:
I remember feeling worried, I knew that something was wrong because my parents were stressed and arguing a lot. I wanted to help but didn’t know how to. That feeling of helplessness never really leaves you.
We are facing a worrying escalation in children living in poverty and as a result they are struggling with mental health illness, which is affecting their education, social development, self-esteem, and ability to thrive and may well continue to affect them into adulthood. It is vital we ensure connection with the young people of today and continue to model them good self-care and resilience so they can take this into the next generation.
Supporting young people
Dorset Mind and Dorset’s Foodbanks have passionate volunteers who support the delivery of vital services across Dorset. I would encourage volunteering within your community as a way of giving back to the young people of Dorset.
Being a part of local organisations has been excellent for my wellbeing and has enabled me to connect and support people of different ages and backgrounds engaging in meaningful conversations.
In 2022, Dorset Mind’s Children & Young People Service reached a total of 2661 children and young people, connecting in schools, online and in their local community.
Dorset Mind Young Person Feedback, 2022:
Being able to chat about feelings with someone who is there to listen has really helped. I can open up about things that I might not have with discussed with anyone else.
Keep talking and connecting
In February, Dorset Mind celebrated #TimetoTalk day. On this day, we hosted an event to raise awareness for local support available at the Bournemouth foodbank. I believe there is a genuine need for concern about the long-term impact this will have on the mental wellbeing and resilience of our future generations. We hope through working closely as a community we can better support young people. Together we can create better mental health in Dorset.
Find local support
Find your local food banks in Dorset on the help and kindness website: helpandkindness.co.uk. For support with debt & money advice call CAP, on 0800 328 0006, or visit their website capuk.org. Or see what services are available through your local council.
Citizens Advice also offer confidential advice online, over the phone, and in person, for free.
Samaritans provide a listening service through their phone line which operates 24hrs a day, 365 days a year. You can talk through your concerns, worries and troubles. Contact Samaritans on 116 123. Dorset Mind wellbeing and mental health support: dorsetmind.uk
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Please support our work
Dorset Mind is a self-funded local charity that helps people in Dorset experiencing mental health problems access the vital support they need. The charity is at the very heart of our communities shaping futures, changing and in some cases literally saving lives.