Coronavirus: Impact on Young People with Mental Health Needs

Year of Publication: 

Young Minds has published an autumn survey about the experiences of young people with mental health needs. The September survey of 2,011 young people shows that many young people with mental health problems are struggling to cope as they return to secondary school, after months of living through the COVID-19 crisis.

The pandemic has put a huge strain on many young people who were already struggling with their mental health, because of traumatic experiences, social isolation, a loss of routine and a breakdown in formal and informal support. The survey highlighted positives for mental health in the initial return to school, such as seeing friends, having a routine, and seeing their teachers. However, many said that the rapid return to academic pressure, after six months away, was having a negative impact.

The findings show:

  • 69% of respondents described their mental health as poor now that they are back at school; this has risen from 58% who described their mental health as poor before returning to school.
  • 40% of respondents said that there was no school counsellor available to support students in their school
  • Only 27% had had a one-to-one conversation with a teacher or another member of staff in which they were asked about their wellbeing, by the time they completed the survey.
  • Almost a quarter of respondents (23%) said that there was less mental health support in their school than before the pandemic, while only 9% agreed that there was more mental health support.

Young Minds is calling for a ring-fenced Resilience Fund, which would ensure schools could commission the mental health and wellbeing support that young people need. This could include commissioning in-school counselling services, working with local charities, bringing extra staff to provide pastoral support, commissioning digital services or prioritising staff wellbeing.