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The mental health impact of the Covid-19 on young people

August 31, 2020 4:15 PM

Pandemic has made young people's mental health worse

Young Minds research exposes the pressure Covid-19 is having on the young. File:SARS-CoV-2 without background.png* Public Domain * (* Public Domain * Centers for Disease Control and Prevention #23312)

Survey of 2,036 young people in June and July investigated the mental health impact of Covid-19 and showed that many are under increasing pressure and struggling to get the right support.

Children and young people across the UK have had their lives turned upside down by the pandemic. Almost every young person has had to adjust to dramatic changes in their education or employment, routine and home life. Some have experienced bereavement or other Traumatic experiences during the lock-down period, while groups who were already marginalised or disadvantaged are now likely to become more so.

The results reveal that:

  • 80% of respondents agreed that the coronavirus pandemic had made their mental health worse. 41% said it had made their mental health "much worse", up from 32% in the previous survey in March. This was often related to increased feelings of anxiety, isolation, a loss of coping mechanisms or a loss of motivation.

  • 87% of respondents agreed that they had felt lonely or isolated during the lock-down period, even though 71% had been able to stay in touch with friends.

  • Among more than 1,000 respondents who were accessing mental health support in the three months leading up the crisis (including from the NHS, school and university counsellors, private providers, charities and helplines), 31% said they were no longer able to access support but still needed it.

  • Of those who had not been accessing support immediately before the crisis, 40% said that they had not looked for support but were struggling with their mental health.

  • 11% of respondents said that their mental health had improved during the crisis, an increase from 6% in the previous survey. This was often because they felt it was beneficial to be away from the pressures of their normal life (e.g. bullying or academic pressure at school)

Read The Full Report

youth mental health

YoungMinds have written to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson calling for the Government to commit to a recovery plan for children and young people's mental health to include:

Ring-fenced funding for mental health in schools, colleges and universities to enable them to provide mental health support to all young people who need it.

A transition period of at least one academic term for schools, colleges and universities in which allowances are made for the effects of trauma or emotional distress; this means reviewing behaviour policies, attendance policies and accountability measures, including suspending the reintroduction of fines related to attendance.

Support for the NHS to cope with a rise in demand for mental health support, enabling face-to-face support to resume widely where possible, and committing to accelerating the mental health ambitions of the NHS Long-Term Plan.

A well-being campaign that is co-produced with, and targeted towards, children and young people, to help them support themselves and find effective help when they need it.

A long-term cross government strategy on young people's mental health that prioritises early intervention in our communities, with clear funding in place, working alongside the voluntary sector to address the inequalities and pressures that affect young people's mental health.

Extracts from the open letter from Emma Thomas,Chief Executive, YoungMinds to S of S Gavin Williamson on returning to school

..............I am writing to share recommendations for how to support children and young people's mental health as they return to school.

........We share your ambition to get all children and young people back into education in September wherever possible. Having structure, routine and access to trusted adults, in addition to time among peers, is hugely important for many young people's well-being and mental health.

..... the return to school will be difficult for some children and young people. For those who faced challenges at school prior to the Covid-19 pandemic - including bullying, struggles with academic pressure or anxiety about the school environment - the return to school is likely to cause intense unease.

Young people who have undergone traumatic experiences during the lock-down may also struggle to adapt to school structures and expectations. Those who have experienced bereavement or unsafe home environments may feel high levels of concern at resuming full-time education, while others are understandably worried about becoming ill and spreading the virus to vulnerable family members. Many young people have also had reduced access to educational materials and teaching time over the past months, which has led to worries about falling behind academically.

........research also shows that most young people who were receiving some form of mental health support through schools have had this support disrupted or cancelled during the pandemic

.......schools need to be able to act quickly, prioritise well-being and provide pastoral support to all students who need it

.......schools should work closely with the NHS and Local Authorities to help students most in need of mental health support

.......many young people will fall through the net and not receive support that would enable them to adjust back to school successfully.

.......schools need ring-fenced funding to provide or commission well-being or mental health support over the coming academic year.....through commissioning additional school counselling services, paying for increased hours for key staff across the school, forming partnerships with the voluntary sector, commissioning online support services or providing extra training for staff on specific issues.

......we would also recommend a readjustment period of at least one term, in which well-being and mental health are explicit priorities for schools........ many young people have missed out on months of education, and there are concerns about widening academic inequality as a result. These inequalities could have a long-term impact on young people's outcomes, opportunities and mental health...... readjustment period must include measures to enable schools to take a pragmatic and flexible approach to help children back into school.....

...... threatening to fine parents whose children are struggling with anxiety or other mental health needs is counter-productive..... parents whose children are too anxious even to leave the home, and who are in desperate need of advice, support and reassurance..... Please will you therefore guarantee that, in this extremely difficult time, no parent will be fined on account of their child's mental health?

......I would be delighted to meet with you or a member of your team in the coming weeks to discuss any of the issues outlined in this letter, and how we can work together to ensure that young people are able to access the support they need to return to school in September.

Released Tuesday 18th August 2020

Coronavirus Mental Health



University of Manchester

Young people's mental health deteriorated the most during the pandemic, study finds