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Covid-19 and the mental wellbeing of our youngsters

With the events of 2020, all of our lives have changed in many different ways but none more so than for children and young people. With this in mind, we have taken a look at how the pandemic has affected the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people.

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With many of us concerned about how Covid-19 has affected the health and wellbeing of children and young people,a poll conducted by YouGov the Children’s Charity Barnardo’s asked 4,000 children and young people across Britain how they had been feeling during lockdown:

'At least one-third of children have experienced an increase in mental health issues including stress, loneliness and worry. Boredom (51%), worry (28%) and feeling trapped (26%) are the top three emotions experienced by children and young people.'

As parents and educators, we are right to be concerned by this finding and should encourage children to be both mentally and physically active to avoid boredom. Getting outdoors in space, such as a beach or forest is a great way of alleviating the fear of being ‘trapped’. Being in the open air may also provide a neutral environment for children and young people to talk about their worries.  

 

The study also discovered that:

‘Children have missed many things during lockdown: 74% of children and young people (age 8-24) report missing going to school or college, with the same number saying that they had found it hard to maintain friendships during lockdown. They are also missing their friends, family and their “milestones” e.g. leaving school, outings, trips, celebrations, and sports and activities.’

The mention of outings and trips in these findings highlights how important they are to the development of children and young people. When on a trip they develop, often without realising it, self-confidence, self-esteem, independent and many other personal and social skills. This is key to young people’s development and shouldn’t be overlooked. 

A study by the Youth Sports Trust also looked at Physical Activity during lockdown. It found that: 

‘Those with access to outdoor space are more likely to have done an hour or more of activity a day than those that do not (20% vs. 13%) and there has been an increase in walking and cycling during lockdown, probably due to the accessibility of these during restrictions.’

Throughout lockdown, we at Rockley got outdoors on our bikes and on foot. Being outside was a big mood booster and eased anxieties about the situation we were facing. Continuing this post lockdown is very important, particularly when coming into the winter months.  

In addition to this many have found that sports and fitness are bringing families together. Sport England research found that:

‘If the parent/carer enjoys sport and physical activity, feels they have the ability to be physically active and/or feels they have the opportunity to be active, the child is more likely to be active and more likely to be doing more compared to pre-lockdown.’

 

As parents and educators, we strive to be great role models to our children and lead by example by keeping fit and getting outdoors. Doing activity together with your children can also help maintain a happy family environment. The YST found that:

‘61% of parents felt that playing sport and keeping fit was helping maintain their family’s physical and mental well-being.’

With the return to school, teachers and leaders are facing many challenges, such as pupils finding it difficult to adjust to routine, catching up on work, managing pupil anxiety and fear, logistics and timetabling, adhering to social distancing and wellbeing issues. But what is evident in the YST study is that:

‘Schools recognise the importance of PE and report that they are keen to use it to help address some of the emerging needs of young people after lockdown.’

New research (published 5th October 20) from Sheffield Hallam University shows that students and teachers report physical activity can improve pupils’ mood confidence and schoolwork. 

‘92% of staff believe being physically active helps with school work, and that 91% of students report feeling that physical activity can improve their mental and physical health.’

 

As we return to a ‘new normal’ we at Rockley are here to support our teachers, both new and old in planning for the future and looking at ways we can offer their pupils trips and adventurous experiences which we know, and research proves, are so important to them. Sport and exercise is not only great for physical health but also boosts mental health, supports good behaviour and academic achievement. 

Do get in touch, even if it’s just for some reassurance and a friendly chat, we are always here for you!

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Quotes taken from:

 YST research ‘The Impact of Covid-19 Restrictions on Children and Young People’ July 2020.

https://www.barnardos.org.uk/news/generation-lockdown-third-children-and-young-people-experience-increased-mental-health June 2020

‘https://www.sportengland.org/news/physical-activity-can-help-children-catch-missed-work’ October 2020.

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