Mental Health of Children and Young People in the Pandemic

New research shows the impact on young people’s mental health and wellbeing in lockdown, the data and insight discussed covers England.

NHS Digital – in collaboration with the Office for National Statistics, NatCen Social Research, University of Cambridge and University of Exeter – has published research on the effect of the pandemic on the mental health of children and young people in England which you can read here.

Surveys were carried out across July 2020 looked at young people’s experiences of family life, education and services, and worries and anxieties during the COVID-19 pandemic are also examined. The findings draw on a sample of 3,570 children and young people interviewed face to face in 2017 and followed up online, now aged between 5 and 22 years.

Key Findings:

  • Rates of probable mental disorder have increased since 2017. In 2020, one in six (16.0%) children aged 5 to 16 years were identified as having a probable mental disorder, increasing from one in nine (10.8%) in 2017. The increase was evident in both boys and girls
  • The likelihood of a probable mental disorder increased with age with a noticeable difference in gender for the older age group (17 to 22 years); 27.2% of young women and 13.3% of young men were identified as having a probable mental disorder in 2020

In 2020:

  • Among 11 to 16 year old girls, 63.8% with a probable mental disorder had seen or heard an argument among adults in the household, compared with 46.8% of those unlikely to have a mental disorder. The association was not evident in boys
  • Among those aged 5 to 22 years, 58.9% with a probable mental disorder reported having sleep problems. Young people aged 17 to 22 years with a probable mental disorder were more likely to report sleep problems (69.6%) than those aged 11 to 16 (50.5%) and 5 to 10 (52.5%)
  • About six in ten (62.6%) children aged 5 to 16 years with a probable mental disorder had regular support from their school or college, compared with 76.4% of children unlikely to have a mental disorder
  • Children aged 5 to 16 years with a probable mental disorder were more than twice as likely to live in a household that had fallen behind with payments (16.3%) than children unlikely to have a mental disorder (6.4%)
  • Children and young people with a probable mental disorder were more likely to say that lockdown had made their life worse (54.1% of 11 to 16 year olds, and 59.0% of 17 to 22 year olds), than those unlikely to have a mental disorder (39.2% and 37.3% respectively)

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