We have all been affected in some way by the pandemic that hit last year. Many businesses suffered, many lost their jobs, thousands were living on a reduced wage whilst being forced to stay home and not go to work, thousands lost their lives to Covid-19 and others left with long-term health concerns. But what about the children and the younger generations? How have they been affected by all of this?
I feel as though the younger generations have been highly dismissed throughout the pandemic. When schools first closed, I heard a lot of people making comments such as, ‘I bet the kids are made up that they do not have to go to school!’ and ‘They still have game consoles and mobile phones, they will stay connected!’… but this was not the case.
Some may have enjoyed the time off of school in the beginning, but as the closures were extended and restrictions grew and grew, the mental health and wellbeing of children began to suffer.
Young Minds conducted a survey earlier this year (January-February 2021) in regards to young people’s mental health in relation to the pandemic. Included in this survey, was 2,438 young people between the ages of 13-15. Here is what they found:
- The main pressures that were reported were; loneliness, concerns around school/college/university, breakdown of usual routine and fear for the future.
- 75% stated that they were finding the latest lockdown much more difficult than the previous lockdowns.
- 67% believed that the pandemic would have a lasting, negative impact on their mental health. With many being concerned about the potential loss of friendships, loss in education and/or the prospect of finding work.
- 79% agreed that their mental health would improve upon restrictions lifting.
The NHS conducted a research into children and young people’s mental health last year (2020) as a follow up on their previous findings in 2017. Here is what they found:
- One in Six 5-16 year olds identified as having a probable mental health disorder. This is a 10.8% increase from the 2017 findings. This increase was evident in both males and females.
- The likelihood of probable mental health disorders increased with age; with a notable difference between male and female as they grew older (17-22 year olds) – 27.2% in women and 13.3% in men.
- 54.1% of 11-16 year olds reported that lockdown had made their lives worse, along with 59% of 17-22 year olds.
What we need to remember is that unfortunately, not all children feel safe in their own homes. Many children witnessed an increased number of arguments within the household, or in some cases, domestic violence and abuse. Therefore, not being able to go to school and escape their home life, they were forced to face it head on. As a result, mental health of children and young people was negatively impacted.
We need to help our younger generations adjust back into school life. But instead they are still expected to take their exams and compete mass amounts of homework when they have missed 12-18 months of education. Schools need to be supporting their students and focusing primarily on their mental health and well-being and putting additional support in place where necessary.
Parents need to take extra care also! If you notice a change of character in your child, or notice their school grades are slipping, speak to them, stay calm and support them. Now is not the time to be harsh and strict, now is the time to support and guide.