More than 72pc of young people struggling with mental health during coronavirus, survey reveals
More than 72pc of the region’s young people have struggled with their mental health since the coronavirus pandemic reached the UK, a survey has revealed.
From the teenager worried about losing a parent, to the pupil concerned with falling behind at school, children as young as 11 years old have reported “really struggling” in 2020 in a variety of areas including health, education, relationships, and being positive about future job prospects.
The survey, carried out by this newspaper ahead of an online debate being held at 5pm on Tuesday, September 15, also revealed that out of six other key areas in young people’s lives, mental health was worst affected by the coronavirus, with 44.3pc reporting problems.
Next, young people aged between 11 and 25 reported education, job and future prospects, and relationships with others, the worst affected (12.9pc), followed by physical health (5.7pc), home life (2.9pc) and driving lessons (1.4pc).
Paul Webb, head of youth work at the support organisation Mancroft Advice Project (MAP), said young people were one of the groups most adversely impacted by the pandemic. “Covid-19 has affected young people in so many ways,” he said.
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“They are seeing their futures being plunged into uncertainty.
“Young people’s education has been put on hold, with many missing out on crucial months of learning, and aspects such as exam results, college and university places and future career prospects put into limbo. Mental health has been hugely impacted as well.
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“The risk of Covid, an isolating lockdown and all the uncertainty that the future holds has increased young people’s anxiety.”
A shock new poll from YouGov recently showed that the British public, particularly the elderly, were blaming youngsters for a spike in coronavirus cases.
The survey of 2,551 Britons on September 11 asked: “How responsible, if at all, do you hold young people for the rise in coronavirus infections?”
The results revealed 57pc held young people responsible for the rise in infections, which was the case for 67pc of those aged 50 to 65, and 73pc of those aged over 65. While just over a third (35pc) did not hold young people responsible, with this opinion being the highest among those aged 18 to 24 (59pc).
But could it be this type of negative criticism of young people which is having the most affect on their mental wellbeing?
Many of the young people who responded to the EDP survey felt that public’s perception of them had worsened during 2020 (77.1pc), while only a tiny percentage (1.4pc) believed it had improved.
Chief executive of MAP, Dan Mobbs, believed blaming young people for the spread of coronavirus was a convenience and that more needed to be done to give them a voice.
He said: “Young people seem to be getting most things right – on climate crisis, equality, education – yet rather than support them they’re scapegoats for the spread of Covid. The term ‘Millennials’ is even used as an insult. Ageism is rife.
“There’s more young people on benefits now than ever. Suicide is the most common cause of death for young people. If we don’t listen to young people, involve them in decisions, we will not build the society we all need.
“Young people have been both unfairly blamed for the spread of Covid and deeply affected by it; schools closed, highest rates of unemployment, facing eviction, high rates of mental health problems. They report losing faith in government as a result.
“If we don’t listen to young people now we risk getting more things wrong for them which will only make things worse for everyone. It’s a time to pull together, not divide.
“Young people have a voice, we just need to listen.”
Mr Webb added: “To address all of these challenges we have to put young people front and centre, hear their voices and act accordingly on how society needs to respond and rebuild.
“Those in positions of power need to take young people’s concerns and suggestions seriously.”
The impact of Covid on young people is the subject of a special online debate involving teenagers from the region. Sponsored by City College Norwich and in association with MAP , it will be hosted by EDP editor David Powles on Tuesday, September 15, at 5pm. To watch or take part in the debate click the link here .
What do you say?
In a recent EDP survey, young people aged 11 to 25 listed ways the virus had impacted them. Here are just a few:
One young person said: “My mother has to shield so I feel that I am missing out on time with her. One day she will be gone and I may be missing out on her best years.”
While many shared the opinion of this individual: “I am worried that once again young people are blamed and made to look like criminals which will affect our mental health.”
A biohazard cleaner for the emergency services said: “The shortage of basic PPE has put several of my colleagues off work due to ill health. We’ve all had to pick up extra shifts simply because we don’t have enough staff to keep the officers, medics, etcetera, safe in their working environment.”
As well as struggling to find work, another problem highlighted by one young person was stress applying for universal credit.
They said: “Stress is amplified by the circus of hoops and trials that make up the application – more like interrogation – process for universal credit.”
Many also listed “misinformation and propaganda in mainsteam media” as an area of concern, along with fears for the future and job prospects.
More extreme views included this one: “I can’t get my head around how young people aren’t at risk of death from Covid, yet we all have to abide by the rules. Why can’t there be separate measures for the over 60s and the rest of us get on with our lives?”
Where to go for help
Mancroft Advice Project (MAP)
Supporting young people aged 11 to 25 with a variety of issues from mental health, drug abuse, housing, and education and employment
T: 01603 766994
Help for anyone under 19 in the UK with any issue they’re going through, via conversation.
T: 0800 1111
If you need help and support, call Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust’s First Response helpline 0808 196 3494 or the Samaritans on
113 123. Both services are available 24 hours, seven days a week. You can also download the Stay Alive app on Apple and Android.