Teenagers' anxiety levels improved during lockdown, according to University of Bristol researchers

For nearly six months teenagers have had to study at home. Credit: PA images

Teenagers' anxiety levels improved during lockdown, according to a University of Bristol study, prompting questions about the impact of school on their mental health.

It has been widely recommended that young people will need more support when they return to the classroom in September, after nearly six months of interrupted education.

However, the new study from the University of Bristol suggests young people saw an improvement in their mental health during lockdown.

This, according to researchers, is because they did not have to experience the day-to-day pressures that come with school life and peer relationships.

The findings come from the University of Bristol. Credit: ITV West Country

In October 2019 experts surveyed more than 1,000 year nine students from 17 secondary schools across the West Country.

More than half of the teenage girls surveyed were at risk of anxiety, according to the study, compared to 26% of boys at the same age.

When they were asked again in May, the figures among girls dropped by nearly 10%. For boys, they dropped by 6%.

Lead author of the study, Emily Widnall, admitted anxiety levels rose for some participants, but it was "quite the opposite case" for many.

This, she concluded, "raises questions about how the school environment affects some younger teenagers' mental well-being."

It also forces us to question what the triggers of anxiety and depression are for this particular age group, the findings suggest.

The results also show reduced anxiety and improved well-being coincided with an increased use of social media among teenage girls. This is perhaps a little surprising considering the common perception that it has detrimental impacts.

The findings from the university are published in a report for the National Institute for Health Research School for Public Health Research.

Dr Judi Kidger, from the University of Bristol, said: "Our findings raise questions about the role of the school environment in explaining rises in mental health difficulties among teenagers in recent years.

"As schools reopen, we need to consider ways in which schools can be more supportive of mental health for all students."