How the pandemic has caused mental health issues in young people

The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on lives across the globe, with people of all ages facing unimaginable challenges.

Young people, in particular, have been one of the key groups to have struggled with their mental health during this time.

At an stage in life when social interaction is vital in nurturing healthy growth and development, many have never felt more isolated.

Throughout the past year, many mental health charities have been overwhelmed with requests for support and, as such, have spent this time putting together reports to highlight the effect of the pandemic.

Young Minds, one of the UK’s leading mental health charities for young people, has carried out four surveys to date in an attempt to understand how young people are feeling and how they are coping.

According to their latest report, dated January 2021, 67 per cent of young people aged between 13 and 25 believed that the pandemic would have a long-term adverse effect on their mental health.

The report goes on to say that this includes those that have lost people close to them or have undergone traumatic experiences during the pandemic, as well as those worried about friendships, their education, and lost work prospects.

Three quarters of respondents from the same survey also agreed that they had found the latest lockdown harder to cope with than the previous ones and have concerns about the possibility of future restrictions if we emerge from this most recent lockdown too quickly.

The pandemic has been seen to have significantly increased the number of mental illness diagnoses in young people, with clinical depression and anxiety being the most prevalent. Researchers at Surrey University surveyed 259 young people in Autumn 2019, before the pandemic began, and again in last summer while the UK was locked down, to assess their levels of depression, anxiety, well-being, alcohol use and sleep quality.

Researchers found evidence that the levels of clinical depression in those surveyed were found to have more than doubled, rising from 14.9 per cent in Autumn 2019 to 34.7 per cent in May/June 2020.

The NHS is currently providing support to more young people than ever, which has prompted the government to offer a £79 million boost to increase the number of mental health support teams in schools and colleges to 400 by 2023.

That being said, the research carried out by mental health charities across the country suggests a significant level of unmet need.

These studies, reports and surveys have all revealed the true impact this pandemic has had on a whole generation of young people.

With society unprepared for such a global event, young people have experienced a breakdown in routines, are suffering from isolation and loneliness, and have lost crucial time in education.

Given the scale and impact this period has had on young people, it is integral that more services, training and opportunities are made available to ensure nobody falls between the cracks.

Inequalities continue to fuel the rising demand for support, and as we emerge from the pandemic it is those whose lives are already affected by this system that will struggle the most.

The small sample of data presented here only adds to the growing body of evidence demonstrating the mental health impact on children and young people.

As a society, we have a responsibility to the younger generation to help and support them to rehabilitate their well-being as a priority so that they can once again thrive in educational and work environments.

With a whole generation of young people needing more emotional, social and educational support than ever before, charities have stepped up to support those most in need.

The Marandi Foundation is just one of the many organisations that have dedicated themselves to helping young people and communities across the UK since 2017 and throughout this troubling time.

It prioritises the wellbeing of young people, focusing on supporting the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children, families and communities across the country.

By funding projects and organisations that provide training and educational opportunities, as well as and mental health and wellbeing support services, young people are able to access the treatment they need as we emerge from the pandemic.

According to NHS Digital, in collaboration with the ONS, one in six children aged between five and 16 were identified as having a probable mental disorder during 2020, increasing from one in nine in 2017.

Evidence that the coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on young people’s mental health and wellbeing is incontrovertible.

It is clear that immediate action must be taken to ensure that children, teenagers, and adolescents all have the support they need to thrive in all aspects of life in the years to come.

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