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Coronavirus: Impact on Young People with Mental Health Needs

Read our report looking at the impact of coronavirus on the mental health of young people and find out what we're asking of Government.

The first survey investigating the mental health impact of the Covid-19 coronavirus on young people with mental health needs reveals the pressure that the crisis has put on young people and support services.

The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is the biggest health crisis for generations, and it is having a devastating impact on the lives of people across the world. The measures that the UK Government is taking to address the crisis – including restrictions on movement and the closure of schools to most students – are absolutely necessary to save lives.

The pandemic is also a mental health risk for our society. The uncertainty, the anxiety, the fear of becoming ill or seeing a loved one become ill, the loss of our normal routines, the difficulties of social connection, and in many cases the disruption to education could have a profound impact on the nation’s mental health.

We carried out a survey with young people with a history of mental health needs between Friday 20 March 2020 (the day that schools closed to most children) and Wednesday 25 March 2020 (when there had been a further tightening of restrictions) in order to establish the impact of the pandemic on their mental health and on their ability access to support. We also asked respondents about helpful and unhelpful coping strategies, and for advice to other young people.

This is a snapshot of young people’s views and experiences at a particular time, in a rapidly changing situation. The challenges they face, the concerns they have and their ability to access support may change considerably over the coming weeks.

Unsurprisingly, the coronavirus and the public health measures designed to prevent its spread are having a profound effect on many young people with a history of mental health problems. When asked what impact the pandemic was having:

  • 32% agreed that it had made their mental health much worse
  • 51% agreed that it had made their mental health a bit worse
  • 9% agreed that it made no difference to their mental health
  • 6% said that their mental health had become a bit better
  • 1% said that their mental health had become much better
Self-isolating and social distancing was a bad habit I worked really hard to get out of. Now I’m being made to do it and being told it’s the right thing to do. It’s very confusing and I’m scared of falling back in to that cycle.
Survey respondent

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The amount of times I’d tried to break out of this shell, talk about ‘I’m feeling a bit down’, ‘I’m feeling a bit scared’, I couldn’t do it. And now I can do it openly.
Alex, Youth Activist
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