Coronavirus lockdowns have blurred young people’s perceptions and emotions, says our member Alison Hotchkiss.

She likened many children’s experiences to going to sleep in a colourful world and waking up in greyscale.

“Like the Wizard of Oz, only in reverse,” she said.

Children's Mental Health Week

Alison, who is a children and young people person-centred counsellor based in Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland, was speaking at the start of Children’s Mental Health Week.

She said: “Imagine growing up where your world was as colourful as you wanted it to be, you had as much choice and freedom, you knew how your world worked and had all your rites of passage ahead of you.

“Earning or learning, you knew what was available to you. Exams. Leaving school. College. University. Travel. Career.

“Then one day you woke up and your colourful world was now greyscale – not even as clear as black or white, but a blurry undefined, ever changing grey.

“You’re lost. Everything is new. Everything is unknown. Like the Wizard of Oz only in reverse.”

Uncertainty and confusion

Alison said that the uncertainty for adults during the pandemic added to the confusion for young people.

“Teenagers are a at stage in their life when they’re learning independence,” she said. “They look to others for reference and yearn for a sense of belonging.

“Yet now they’re struggling.  But it isn’t just them. The people they would look to for guidance, they’re in the same situation.

“Perhaps furloughed parents have become unemployed parents. As young people are at home, they hear of adults difficulties and their own situation becomes darker.”

Alison said that counsellors in education settings are “vital” to help young people process what’s happening around them.

School counselling campaign

We’re campaigning for paid counselling provision for all young people in England’s secondary schools and FE colleges.

And Alison said: “Humans adapt. Which is why having qualified counsellors in places of education is so vital.

“Our young people may need accessible mental health support to find their way in the world with post-lockdown. Perhaps, it may be needed by all of us,” she added.

If you want to speak to a BACP counsellor, you can find one near you via our therapist directory.