A team of UK researchers has found a deeper impact of Covid-19 on the mental health of children and young people that could result in an increased demand for support services.
The research, led by the University of Exeter and the University of Cambridge, is the first to examine research that has information on young people’s mental health before and during the pandemic.
The study gives more insight into changes in mental health of children and young people of various ages across the globe during the pandemic.
“Our review of the research in the field provides further evidence that already-stretched services are likely to see an increase in demand, but that perhaps things are not as bad for everyone as some headlines make them appear,” said Dr Tamsin Newlove-Delgado of the University of Exeter.
“Children and young people must be prioritised in pandemic recovery, and explicitly considered in planning for any future pandemic response,” she said in the study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.
The researchers found some evidence for deterioration across a range of broader measures of mental health, such as an increase in overall problems with behaviour, emotions or anxiety, as well as finding a lot of studies that reported no change and some reporting improvements in mental health.
“The race for answers during the pandemic meant that a lot of research was conducted quickly, using opportunistic samples, for example by asking people in online surveys how they thought their child’s mental health had been impacted by the pandemic,” said study author Dr Abigail Russell of the University of Exeter.
“As a research community, we urgently need to do better by our young people who struggle with their mental health, to understand the impact on them and their families, to target support where it’s needed,” Russell added.