Impact of measures
Empirical studies of the mental health and wellbeing impacts of lockdown, school closures and related measures during both the COVID-19 pandemic and similar health-related disasters in the past show clear evidence of the impact on children and young people.
The evidence suggests that the basis for much of the worry and anxiety experienced relates to education, notably missing school, returning to school and future opportunities. Further evidence shows that engagement with the curriculum has been disrupted for many children and young people, including those without sufficient digital access, physical space, and other resources to support their learning.
Increased feelings of loneliness have also been identified as an issue for children, deprived of the normal social interaction provided by the school environment. In addition, it has been noted that boredom and frustration resulting from lack of contact with others has a negative effect on the mental health of children.
Children have reported concerns over losing the enjoyable aspects of school and the impact on friendships of such things as social distancing measures. Those who have had to quarantine or self-isolate have sometimes experienced the stigma of association with disease or infection.
Primary school age children are more likely to worry about being away from home and transitioning between schools, whereas secondary school age children are more concerned with fears for the future and loss of academic pressure due to restrictions on their education.
Rise in the proportion of young people reporting symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Increase in the number of young people reporting an inability to concentrate.
Number of children and young people taking part in extracurricular sporting activity.
Parents worried their children will fall behind socially and mentally.
Impact Of Measures
Various studies show a pattern of increased levels of distress, worry, anxiety and depression as a result of lockdown and related measures, especially in particular populations such as families with younger parents, those in disadvantaged communities and BAME groups. Some children have even experienced PTSD.
Coronavirus: Impact on young people with mental health needs
In the last few months, many young people have found it hard to cope with social isolation, anxiety and fears about what the future holds. A smaller number have adjusted comparatively well to life under lockdown.
Undoing the untold harms of COVID-19 on young people: a call to action
The overall risk of harm from SARS-CoV-2 is extremely small, yet the response to COVID-19 has already had a devastating toll on the lives of children.
Adverse consequences of school closures, UNESCO report
School closures carry high social and economic costs for people across communities. Their impact however is particularly severe for the most vulnerable and marginalised boys and girls and their families.