More than 30% of UK children and young people feel their well-being is much worse since the pandemic, according to a survey that will be presented at the British Psychological Society conference today.
The survey, by Dr Siobhan Currie, chair of Youth Works Northamptonshire, found that while the majority of children say they have coped well with the negative aspects of the lockdowns, 33% had struggled to cope with the impact on their mental well-being and are likely to require more support.
Some 969 children and young people aged 11–18 years old took part in an online questionnaire about their well-being during the pandemic, looking at how they coped and how they felt about returning to school. The results were compared to other studies by Office for National Statistics (ONS) and NHS Digital that focused on the same issue.
This was comparable with the findings of the ONS and NHS studies that reported a similar rise in mental health issues in children and young people. This group may require support as they are at risk of long term damage to their emotional well-being.
Dr Currie said: ‘It’s great news that the majority of UK kids and young people have been able to cope with the mental health impact of the pandemic. Some even say that they have done better.
‘However, it’s clear there is a significant increase in those who need support for mental health difficulties. With the extra funding announced, including £8million Wellbeing in Education Return Fund, psychologists should focus on supporting schools to identify and provide the right support to those who need it most. We need to learn lessons and build on the coping methods that young people found most helpful.’
Many of the children surveyed discussed the different ways they coped, watching videos and gaming, but also taking up creative hobbies such as baking and art. They were keen to keep things as normal as possible and keep in touch with friends and family, as well as getting back to school as soon as possible.