This project explores the impact of COVID-19 on adolescent mental health and wellbeing, social connections and social media activity. The project team surveyed over 1,000 Year 9 students from 17 schools across the south west of England. The results showed overall young people’s mental health improved during lockdown, with this group reporting reductions in anxiety and rises in wellbeing.
What does this mean for the public?
• It is important to be aware that, as children return to school, there may be a rise in their anxiety. Students may need additional support from their communities to help them during this time.
• An increase in anxiety may be experienced by any student. However, students that may be more likely to benefit from additional support include students who felt less connected to school and those who had high anxiety before lockdown. As will students who belong to vulnerable groups including LGBTQ+ and disabled students.
• Some practices introduced by Schools during lockdown may have increased the sense of connectedness for students. It would be beneficial for students to have these practices supported at home.
In March 2020, the UK was placed in lockdown in an effort to help slow the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). The lockdown has disrupted the lives and daily routines of everyone; however, the impact is likely to have had a particular impact on young people with the closure of schools and disruption to social relationships.
This project aims to understand the impacts of COVID-19 and the resultant lockdown on adolescent mental health and wellbeing, social connections, and social media activity.
Participants in this project were Year 9 students (aged 13-14 years) who were participants of an ongoing NIHR School for Public Health Research survey study exploring social media use and adolescent mental health and wellbeing. Students had already completed a baseline survey pre-pandemic in October 2019. Participants were contacted by their schools at the end of April 2020 during lockdown and invited to complete a similar survey online.
Findings will be shared with schools, mental health charities and relevant policy makers.
In the news
An overview of the newly published report, 'Young People's Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic'.
Younger teenagers in the South West of England felt less anxious and more connected to school when they were away from it during the COVID-19 global pandemic public lockdown, a first-of-its-kind study has found.