How has the pandemic affected young people’s mental health? •

A new in-depth study by the University of Exeter and the University of Cambridge has assessed research on the mental health of children and young people using evidence spanning before and during the Covid-19 pandemic. Experts have found that the pandemic is having a significant impact on the mental health of this demographic, which could lead to increased demand for support services.

Researchers analyzed 51 studies that looked at how the pandemic has affected the mental health of children and young people across various domains. These studies included baseline mental health information, gathered before the pandemic began, rather than relying on retrospective perceptions of change. However, the demand for rapid research that has increased during the pandemic meant that the standard of these studies was variable, with only four considered high quality science.

Although the evidence showed some degree of deterioration in several aspects of mental health, overall the results were mixed, suggesting that the effects are not universal and depend on the circumstances and context of children, young adults and families. However, the overall trend identified by the researchers is clear enough to indicate a likely future increase in demand for mental health support.

“The pandemic has affected the lives of children and young people around the world, and we have heard a lot about its impact on mental health. Our review of research in the field provides further evidence that already stretched services are likely to see an increase in demand, but things may not be as bad for everyone as some headlines make them out to be. explained the study’s lead author, Tamsin Newlove-Delgado, a children’s mental health expert at Exeter.

“However, even a small average change in mental health symptoms for each child can mean that at a societal level, large numbers of children move from managing OK to needing professional support. Children and young people need to be priorities in pandemic recovery and explicitly considered in the planning of any future pandemic response.

“Studying the whole population of children and young people means that our research may not pick up on differences between groups that may have fared better or worse during the pandemic,” the co-author added. study, Tamsin Ford, psychiatrist at Cambridge.

“For example, other research found that some children and young people reported sleeping and eating better during lockdowns, or found it easier to access distance learning as they could work at their own pace. Others have struggled with lack of structure or lack of access to distance learning or peers.

Further research is needed to clarify the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of young people and to design effective therapeutic pathways to help those currently struggling with psychological distress.

The study is published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

By Andrei Ionescu, Personal editor

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How has the pandemic affected young people’s mental health? •

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