We are all still living through very challenging times, but for young people cut off from their everyday social networks, life is becoming increasingly stressful, according to new research. The Mental Health Foundation (MHF) charity have published the results of a survey of 13-19-year olds in the UK, with some concerning statistics.
The findings, prepared jointly by the MHF and Swansea University, show that over a quarter (27%) felt ‘nervous, anxious, or edge’ and the same number felt ‘easily annoyed or irritable’ on most or all of the days of the previous fortnight. Furthermore, 32% reported trouble sleeping on most or nearly all of the days in the previous fortnight.
The data, published on the 31 January 2021, is part of an ongoing project to record teenagers’ experiences of the pandemic and the effects of the lockdown. Worryingly, the latest results, from a representative sample of 2,395 teenagers, were gathered in December 2020, before the schools shut down again.
Another pattern revealed in the data is that teenagers living in households with unemployed or low-paid parents were at greater risk of mental health problems than their peers from ABC1 homes. The charity suggests this could be because those from poorer households lacked adequate space and internet access, and were affected by their parents’ worries.
Professor Ann John, Professor of Public Health and Psychiatry at Swansea University, said: “The pandemic has exposed the deep inequalities in our society. Many studies have shown the greater impact and widening gaps in mental health difficulties, educational attainment and more severe financial consequences for the young and those living in poverty.”
Professor John goes on to call for the Government to deliver targeted support to assist those who are most vulnerable to mental health problems. The isolation and loss of ready-made social networks which most teenagers will have never experienced before, is exacerbated by unequal living standards.
Lea Milligan, Chief Executive of MQ Mental Health Research, said: “Since the start of the pandemic we have seen drastic changes in mental health. For some groups, there have been improvements whilst others, including young people, are seeing theirs decline. How can we support the most vulnerable to ensure they can recover in a post-pandemic world? We need more research to find this answer.”
If you are among the many groups of people who are suffering from increased anxiety, depression, or anger at the moment, it may be helpful to know there are techniques you can learn to better manage your emotions and put things into perspective. Mindfulness therapy is a popular choice for those wanting an alternative to medication.
The therapy focuses on meditation, gentle yoga, and controlled breathing exercises. It also helps you to find ways of breaking negative thought patterns. It’s often a lot easier to talk about your stresses and worries with a complete stranger than with those who are closest to you.
If you’d like to find out more, get in touch with The Mindful Therapist today.