Mental health in children linked to the COVID-19 pandemic
Impact of coronavirus and lockdown on children and young people’s mental health (taken from young minds.org.uk, the UK’s leading charity fighting for children and young people’s mental health.)
This report outlines the results of the fourth survey they have carried out with young people with a history of mental health needs during the coronavirus pandemic. The previous surveys were carried out in March 2020, at the start of the first lockdown; in Summer 2020, when measures were announced to ease restrictions; and in Autumn 2020, shortly after schools re-opened.
This survey took place between 26th January and 12th February 2021, during a new period of national lockdown, when schools, colleges and universities were closed to most students.
2,438 young people aged 13-25 who have looked for mental health support at some point in their lives took part. This included 1,817 young people who say that they have needed mental health support since the beginning of the pandemic. See Methodology section for more details.
All participants were aged 13-25 and had a history of mental health needs, and have looked for some form of mental health support previously.
75% of respondents agreed that they were finding the current lockdown harder to cope with than the previous ones.
67% believed that the pandemic will have a long-term negative effect on their mental health.
79% believed that their mental health will improve once most restrictions are lifted.
When asked what the main pressures were during the current lockdown, the most common answers were: 1) Loneliness and isolation; 2) Concerns about school, college or university work; 3) A breakdown in routine [“not being able to do the things you usually would”]
Among young people who believe they have needed mental health support during the pandemic, 54% said that they have received some form of support (e.g. through NHS mental health services; school or university counsellors; helplines; charities). 24% said that they have looked for support but not accessed any; 22%said that they had not looked for support.
Among respondents who are at school or college, 55% said that there was a counsellor or mental health support team available in their school, 23% disagreed.
Among respondents who are at school or college, almost half (48%) did not think that their school was focusing more on wellbeing and mental health than usual.
Impact of the lockdown
75% of respondents agreed that they were finding the current lockdown harder to cope with than the previous ones, including 44% who said that it was much harder. 14% said that it was easier cope with, while11% said that it was the same.
67% agreed that they believe the pandemic will have a long-term negative effect on their mental health.19% neither agreed nor disagreed, 14% disagreed.
79% agreed that they believe their mental health will improve once most restrictions are lifted. 12% neither agreed nor disagreed, 9% disagreed.
50% agreed that they believe their mental health will improve once most people are vaccinated. 30% neither agreed nor disagreed, 20% disagreed.
66% agreed that they have been able to stay in touch with friends and family during the current lockdown.14% neither agreed nor disagreed. 20% disagreed.
23% agreed that they have coped well with restrictions on movement. 18% neither agreed nor disagreed,59% disagreed.
Three-quarters of respondents said that they are finding the current lockdown harder to cope withthan the previous ones. Many expressed a sense of frustration, uncertainty about the future and a loss of hope. Some young people said that they had started self-harming again, having panic attacks or having suicidal thoughts. Others expressed growing anxieties about food, eating or weight, missing human contact, or losing motivation to carry out basic tasks or to look after themselves.
The lockdown itself was causing additional pressure for a wide range of reasons, including many that have featured in our previous surveys – isolation, a loss of routine and challenges accessing mental health support. Most young people who were at school or college also cited academic pressure as a major factor that was affecting their mental health, with home learning described by one as “like school without the fun bits”.
Worryingly, young people expressed pessimism about the future – a sense that little progresshad been made in tackling the pandemic. Some were concerned that the Government would ease restrictions too quickly, which would lead to further lockdowns and restrictions in the future.
Taken from youngminds.org.uk 7th December 2021