Young adults more likely to have poor mental health during lockdown – survey

Young people are more likely to experience poor mental health during the coronavirus lockdown than older adults, research claims Credit: Anna Gowthorpe/PA

Young people are more likely to experience poor mental health during the coronavirus lockdown than older adults, new research claims.

A survey of almost 5,000 UK adults by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) found that indicators of low mood and wellbeing were “amplified” in young people during the pandemic.

Its research found that 70% of 18 to 24-year-olds had felt anxious about the future more often than normal, compared with 47% of over-75s.

Meanwhile, 62% of the same younger age group reported feeling lonely more frequently, compared with 21% of those aged 65 to 74.

The RSPH said people under 25 are more likely to be working in a sector that has been closed due to the pandemic and could face further anxiety around personal health as they are asked to return.

Ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs between May 18 and May 24, the RSPH is now calling for more support services for young people.

Shirley Cramer, RSPH’s chief executive, said: “Life under lockdown has been a challenge for all of us, but we are very concerned to see that young people are most vulnerable to experiencing adverse effects on their mental health and wellbeing.

“We need more support tailored to young people who are struggling in this unique situation if we want to avoid further disadvantaging young people by allowing a mental health crisis to develop as a consequence of lockdown.”

The survey, carried out between March 31 and April 8, also found 58% of people aged 18 to 24 disagreed the Government was doing enough to protect the public’s mental health and wellbeing.

Meanwhile, 38% of the same age group said they had experienced less good quality sleep, compared with 15% of over-75s.

Financial concerns had also left 16% of 18 to 24-year-olds unable to isolate as much they would have liked to. The same issue was reported by 11% of people aged 55 to 64.

Dr Antonis Kousoulis, director for England and Wales at the Mental Health Foundation, said: “It is troubling but not surprising that the pandemic and lockdown have had a particularly negative impact on young people’s mental health.

“Their education, relationships and socialising have been severely disrupted and current projections for the economy and the job marketplace will be adding to their stress.”

The survey also found that the majority (85%) of 18 to 24-year-olds had connected with people virtually more often, while 25% had volunteered in their community more often than normal.

In a statement, the Department for Education (DfE) said it had published guidance to schools and families about how they can support their child’s mental wellbeing and education at home.

“Mental health support continues to be available for those that need it,” the DfE said.

“NHS services remain open and leading mental health charities are being supported to deliver additional services through the £5 million coronavirus mental health response fund.”