The Lost Generation, the Covid-19 Generation are just a couple of terms coined to describe the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on a whole generation of children and young people. Usually referred to as Generation Z (defined as 8 to 24 year olds), it is still too early to fully realise the consequences of the lockdown. However, a raft of research conducted in the last few months points to a significant impact.
RB Mind has developed an assembly and workshop for children to help them process the affects of the pandemic on their mental health as well as a whole series of workshops on the wider aspects of mental health.
Click here for further information.
School closures during the pandemic lockdown have been particularly detrimental to the most disadvantaged and vulnerable children. According to an online survey of 4,000 parents in England by the Institute of Fiscal studies (April- May 2020), better off households are spending 30% more time each day on educational activities than the children from the poorest households. This finding is not surprising when we consider the challenges that the poorest households have in providing access to technology.
The Edge Foundation’s June 2020 report highlights that for children who are particularly at risk – living in abusive households, temporary accommodation or who have serious mental health issues, the lockdown not only halted their learning but broke their routine and removed a regular safe space. According to the Sutton Trust report (April 2020), even in normal circumstances the poorest children are already 11 months behind their better off peers and all of these factors are likely to increase the gap for vulnerable young people and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
But what about the impact on children’s mental health? According to a study by Young Minds (April 2020) amongst 2,111 young people with mental health needs, 32% agreed that the pandemic had made their mental health much worse and 51% a bit worse. Among the factors affecting their mental health were concerns about their family’s health, uncertainty arising from schools or university closures, loss and changes in their routine, loss of social connection resulting in loneliness.
Loneliness has been a big issue amongst school children of all ages and according to a survey conducted amongst 9,000 school children by EduKit (April-May 2020), feelings of loneliness are widespread. Up to Year 8, around a third of pupil respondents report feeling lonely “a bit” or “very often” but for Years 12 and 13 this rose to more than half with 20-25% saying that they “very often” felt lonely during lockdown.
Although much of the ongoing research about the affects of the pandemic paints a gloomy picture, some positive aspects of the impact of Covid-19 have emerged. Schools were quick to adapt teaching methods to online learning and this can be used as a valuable resource to help those left behind to catch up. Respect for all the essential services from the NHS to delivery drivers has grown showing their importance in our society. The importance of mental health to our overall wellbeing is now recognised.
Richmond Borough Mind offers a full list of free workshops and assemblies for schools, parents and teachers and for more information or to book please contact [email protected]