Young people on how the pandemic has hit their mental health

David Powles, editor of the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News, hosting the #We'veGotThis

David Powles, editor of the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News, hosting the #We'veGotThis session for children and young people in the Open Up mental health online conference, with from top right, Ligija; middle row from left, Fae, Chelsea and Alfie; and bottom, Emilie, taking part. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

From the highs and lows of the pandemic to the amount of pressure put on school pupils, young people in Norfolk have discussed how their mental health has been affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

On Friday, a panel of representatives from various Youth Advisory Boards in Norfolk took part in a discussion around young people's mental health as part of the Eastern Daily Press' Open Up, a virtual conference on the issue of mental health.

The panel of five shared what had been the best and worst bits of the pandemic and whether or not they thought the government could have handled the outbreak better.

Ligija, from Breckland Youth Advisory Board (YAB), said one of the toughest things of the past had been the disruption to her education, but one of the positives had been being forced "to take a step back and realise just how important it is to take care of yourself."

Others agreed. Chelsea from the South Norfolk YAB, said: "The worst bit has not been being able to see friends and family, they're the most important part of my life.

"The best thing has been learning to look after myself, I have also started a facemask business during the pandemic which has worked really well."

The young people also discussed how their education had been affected by the pandemic and whether or not the outbreak had changed the perception of mental health and its importance.

Fae from the Great Yarmouth YAB said she felt there should have been more communications from schools during the outbreak to help students feel less isolated following school closures.

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Alfie, from the West Norfolk YAB, said: "Being in this pandemic, I have learned a lot more about where to go for [mental health support]. I think pre-pandemic there was not much awareness around it. I hope post-pandemic there will be more places to go."

Emilie, from the Broadland YAB, said: "Even before coronavirus my school took time to talk about our mental health but it was a few times a year, now it's a few times a week."