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Poor transport and internet services ‘damage rural children’s mental health’

Words: Huw Morris

A lack of access to public transport and the internet is leaving children in remote rural communities suffering ‘prolonged isolation, exclusion and insecurity’, according to latest research.

A Centre for Mental Health study reveals eight to 13-year-olds in remote rural and coastal communities are struggling to receive mental health support because of poor transport, digital connectivity and a lack of safe spaces to meet.

The research, commissioned by BBC Children in Need, calls for more funding for local authorities to invest in digital infrastructure for places with limited connectivity as well as investment in parks, schools and community centres.

“Children in remote rural and coastal communities have been overlooked for too long,” said the centre’s deputy chief executive Andy Bell. “While rural life can be good for mental health, children growing up in poverty, with disability or in a marginalised or oppressed community face a high risk of poor mental health with little support close to home.

“Without access to public transport or digital connection, children face prolonged isolation, exclusion and insecurity.

“We need to take action now to ensure no child’s mental health is put at risk because of where they live.”

The research, which was carried out before the Covid-19 outbreak, warns that rural families on low incomes may be especially vulnerable to the economic downturn, with public services and charities are increasingly stretched and charities.

The study is available here.

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