The STV Children’s Appeal has launched a new fundraising campaign focused on supporting the mental health and wellbeing of Scotland’s children and young people, following research that suggests the Covid-19 pandemic will have a damaging long-term impact on young minds.
Glasgow-born Hollywood actor James McAvoy has joined other top Scottish talent – TV presenter Gail Porter, Booker Prize-winning author Douglas Stuart, comedian Janey Godley, Love Island star Laura Anderson and singer-songwriter Joesef – in recording video messages of support for the campaign.
A lockdown survey highlighted that 67% of young people believe the pandemic will be harmful to their mental health in the long-term.
In response, the STV Children’s Appeal – which was first launched in 2011 – will begin airing a new TV campaign voiced by long-time trustee Lorraine Kelly, which asks viewers to consider the impact of a year of lockdowns on youth mental health, and donate to support the recovery phase.
The campaign highlights the particularly detrimental impact of the pandemic on the one in four children currently living in poverty in Scotland.
Most lifelong mental illness begins in childhood and those living in deprivation are three times more likely to experience it, according to the British Medical Association. 100% of the money raised will be quickly distributed by the STV Children’s Appeal to fund vital counselling sessions and peer support groups in communities right across Scotland.
It will also support local projects which give children access to sports, art, music and other means of essential peer-to-peer connection, of which they might otherwise be deprived.
Lorraine Kelly, STV Children’s Appeal trustee, said: “It’s so important we help to raise funds and awareness of our children’s mental health.
“They’ve been through such a lot and we need to make sure they are looked after with kindness and compassion.
“I’m always so inspired by the response of the Scottish public who are incredibly generous and I’m sure we will be able to make life so much better for all the children who need that extra support.”
Jacqueline Cassidy, director of Scotland at children’s mental health charity and STV Children’s Appeal partner organisation Place2Be, said: “For some young people, this pandemic has been a nightmare. We are seeing increased levels of anxiety and emotional worry within the schools and wider communities in which we work.
“Our evidence shows when young people get the right support at the right time, their school performance improves and so do their life chances. And that stays with them as they grow.
“Thanks to the STV Children’s Appeal, we have been able to provide specialist support for parents and carers in Glasgow, as well as training for youth workers across Scotland to build their skills and confidence in responding to the mental health needs of children and young people.
“We are hugely grateful for STV’s support which means we can reach many more young people across Scotland before it’s too late.”