Eight in 10 young mental health patients say Covid-19 crisis has “worsened symptoms”

While almost all people in the UK have been mentally affected by the Covid-19 outbreak, it is young people who may be most impacted, a major study has revealed.

According to the research, published by mental health charity YoungMinds, 83 per cent of young people with a history of mental illness report that the pandemic has worsened their symptoms.

The charity surveyed more than 2,100 young people with mental health needs after schools shut on Friday 20 March to reveal the pressure the crisis has put on vulnerable people and support services.

The results show that 32 per cent of young people believe that the situation has made their mental health “much worse”, while 51 per cent say it has made their mental health “a bit worse”.

Meanwhile, 26 per cent of young people who had been accessing mental health services say they were now not able to as a result of stretched support.

Commenting on the study, Emma Thomas, Chief Executive of YoungMinds, said: “The coronavirus pandemic is a human tragedy that will continue to alter the lives of everyone in our society, and 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.”

The study also highlights how young people have lost coping mechanisms due to restricted social movement. However, 72 per cent of respondents said face-to-face calls with friends were helpful, alongside watching TV and films (72 per cent), exercising (60 per cent) and learning new skills (59 per cent).

Watching the news, meanwhile, was regarded as the least helpful activity among young people, with two in three participants agreeing that it harmed their mental health.

Ms Thomas added: “We need to find ways to help those young people who have lost their support – not least because, in many cases, they have also lost many of their coping mechanisms, including contact with friends or routines that help them to manage their conditions.

“We also know that many young people who previously might not have needed mental health support are likely to do so in future. As the impact of the pandemic and the restrictions on their lives continues to sink in, more young people are likely to struggle.”

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