Mental illness among young people rises significantly during coronavirus lockdown

One in six children between the age of five and 16 have reported a mental health problem during the coronavirus lockdown, a major study has revealed.

The Mental Health and Young People Survey, published by NHS England, highlights how the lockdown has affected young people across different age groups.

According to the study, one in six (16 per cent) children have reported a mental health issue, such as depression, anxiety or sleeping problems, since the start of the pandemic in March. This is compared to just one in nine (11 per cent) children who reported a problem in 2017.

Furthermore, two in five (40 per cent) young people said the coronavirus lockdown had “made their life worse”.

Across individual genders and age groups, both boys and girls were affected equally, but young women are still much more likely to report a mental health problem than young men. This could be due to the fact that men are less likely to speak to someone about mental illness.

Loneliness was also more common among girls than boys, as were sleeping problems.

Commenting on the report, Anne Longfield, children’s commissioner for England, said: “This dramatic increase in the number of children struggling with mental health problems, worsened by the COVID-19 crisis, is extremely alarming.

“The NHS will have to upscale radically its plans for children’s mental health just to meet its existing commitments.”

Emma Thomas, Chief Executive at YoungMinds, added: “This alarming research shows the profound effect that COVID-19 has had on children and young people’s mental health.”

The latest figures suggest that around one in four people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year, with the most common illnesses being anxiety and depression.

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