The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is the biggest health crisis for generations, and it is having a devastating impact on the lives of young people and children across the world. The pandemic is also a mental health risk for our society. The uncertainty, the anxiety, the fear of becoming ill or seeing a loved one become ill, the loss of our normal routines, the difficulties of social connection, and in many cases the disruption to education could have a profound and devastating impact on mental health.
Of the 83% who said the pandemic had made their mental health worse, 32% said it had made it “much worse” and 51% said it had made it “a bit worse”.
The survey was carried out during a period of immense change, between 20 March, when UK schools were closed to most students, and 25 March, when further restrictive measures had been put in place.
Among the respondents who were accessing mental health support leading up to the crisis – including from the NHS, school and university counsellors, charities, helplines and private providers – 74% said they were still receiving support and 26% said they were unable to access support.
Among those who could no longer access support, some said they had been affected due to the closure of schools, not being able to attend peer support groups or because face-to-face services could not be done online or over the phone. Others had been offered remote support but were concerned about privacy, access to technology or felt anxious about speaking on the phone or via video calls.
When the charity asked respondents what had impacted their mental health the most, the loss of routine and social isolation were the most commonly cited factors.
Emma Thomas, the chief executive of YoungMinds, said the pandemic was a “human tragedy that will continue to alter the lives of everyone in our society. The results of this survey show just how big an impact this has had, and will continue to have, on the mental health of young people.”
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