Just four in ten young people in Scotland feel good about their mental health

Study finds that only forty percent of respondents (aged 11-25) say they felt good about their mental health and wellbeing, with “significant anxiety” coming from COVID-itself (particularly in relation to family health), family income, exam pressure and employment prospects.

11/01/21

Just four in ten young people in Scotland feel good about their mental health

A new briefing from the Scottish Government has highlighted the evidence of a significant mental health toll on older children and young people arising from the coronavirus pandemic, with just four in ten respondents (aged 11-25) reporting feeling good about their mental health.

The briefing, which is the latest in a series of evidence summaries on the broad impact of COVID-19 on the wellbeing of children and families in Scotland, also said that a “recurring theme” in research is the need for more 'recovery' support, particularly for child mental wellbeing.

The paper says there is “some indication” that support for older children and young people in school/further education has been “insufficient” – particularly for those with 'vulnerabilities' such as young carers, young people with mental health problems and those with experience of the criminal justice system.

It was also found that although social media is generally perceived by young people to be a positive means of keeping in touch with friends, there continues to be emerging evidence around increased levels of online bullying during the national lockdown. The Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) Scotland reported an increase in online bullying, prejudicial comments and attitudes online during lockdown, while the most recent survey from Children's Parliament reports an increase in the proportion of children feeling unsafe online.

There was, however, some evidence of positive impacts of the pandemic on family relationships. A report by London School of Economics (LSE) using UK-wide data from the Understanding Society Covid Survey suggested that the pandemic has “not had a detrimental impact on the relationship between children and their non-resident parent.” An Ofsted report on children's experiences during the pandemic also found that children's sources of resilience (e.g. good support structures, quality family time) played a key role in determining how well children are coping since returning to school regardless of background, including those within the care system.

Many of the surveys in the briefing were drawn from self-selecting or convenience/opportunity samples, meaning that the findings may not be representative of the wider population, though the Scottish Government notes the continued need for more longitudinal research using representative samples to monitor the impact of the pandemic in the longer term.

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