Young people have been heavily impacted by COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns – disruptions to schooling and education, uncertainty over exams and results, fewer employment prospects, not being able to socialise with friends and family, and having to stay in. This has impacted on young people’s mental health and wellbeing, with increased levels of stress, anxiety and mental ill health.
This report highlights the key findings and emerging themes from the two surveys, focusing on the impact of COVID-19 and lockdowns on the mental health and wellbeing of young people. The report also gives a valuable insight into the experiences and concerns of parents and carers, and the role schools, colleges, and mental health services can play in addressing the pressures faced by young people and supporting them in improving their mental health in unusual and uncertain times.
60% of the respondents to the survey stated the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns have had a negative impact on their mental health.
There were some positive aspects of the lockdowns and being away from school. Some young people reported an improvement to their mental health as a result of being away from the pressures of a school environment (body image, appearance, relationships etc.) and having more time for themselves and their family.
Over 35% of the young people said they felt anxious about their school work and exams and wondered if they may be "failing" in their education.
89% of young people said they would like to see an improvement in the mental health care and interventions offered at their school.
65% of the parents and carers stated the lockdowns and the pandemic have had an adverse impact on the mental health of their children and young people, highlighting the main concern as isolation, stemming from their children or young people not being able to socialise with their friends or participate in educational, social, or extra-curricular activities.
Schools and colleges
- Provide better communications and messaging on COVID-19, ensuring young people have a clear understanding of the virus and prevention methods.
- Raise awareness of mental health and the additional pressures caused by COVID-19. Students need to be more openly encouraged to discuss mental health themes, which should be widely introduced and celebrated in the schools’ learning, ethos, and policies. Mental health training for all staff is a must.
- Prioritise mental health and wellbeing provision, and offer this holistically to students, especially to young people who have additional needs, or may be going through transition or exam periods. Regular check-ins with students, break-out times, and open-door policies can encourage young people to talk about their mental health.
- Recognise the need for extra-curricular and social interventions, to improve young people’s mental health and wellbeing.
Mental health services, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), charities and organisations
Raise awareness of services among young people, parents, and carers. Increase understanding of the support that’s on offer and how to access it.
- Have more of a presence within educational environments, offering information and advice surgeries, interventions and support for young people, in a safe environment, alongside their academic studies.