Coping strategies made a difference to mental well-being during pandemic, new report says

Spending time outside, keeping physically active and engaging in creative activities all helped young people reduce the negative mental health impacts of the pandemic, a new report says.

The report by Public Health Wales identifies a range of activities and behaviours that were adopted to allow people to adapt and deal with the changes to their lives.

Among the key findings, it says the pandemic resulted in some positive impacts for some young people.

There was relief from social pressure and bullying, more family time and the opportunity to take up new hobbies.

However, evidence overwhelmingly points to a negative impact on all aspects of mental well-being among children and young people.

These included parents struggling to cope, feelings of loneliness and isolation and educational disruption.

Age was found to be one of the clearest determinants of mental well-being.

Adolescents and young adults exhibited depression, anxiety and other adverse outcomes more so than older adults or younger peers.

Evidence suggests young women and girls were more severely affected by the pandemic than their male counterparts, and there were increased calls to helplines indicating a possible rise in children who experienced abuse and violence at home during lockdown, the report suggests.

Factors that served to mitigate some of the negative implications of the pandemic included spending time outside, establishing routines, and being aware of the nature of the virus and its spread.

Nerys Edmonds, principal health impact assessment practitioner at Public Health Wales, said: “Although coronavirus has undoubtedly had far reaching negative impacts on our younger population, it is important for us to learn where these impacts have been the most profound and what has helped so far to mitigate these impacts.

“Our young people have shown remarkable resilience and we will be examining what can now be put in place to support their recovery, help them build a happy future, as well as ensuring that mental health and well-being are fully considered in future plans for public health emergencies.”

Public Health Wales commissioned Alma Economics to review the research evidence on the impact of the pandemic and the associated government measures on the mental well-being of babies, children, and young people.

‘The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the mental wellbeing of children and young people in Wales: literature review’ was conducted using a series of existing survey data and published research studies, to identify mental health challenges that young people experienced and some of the protective factors that helped to safeguard their mental health and well-being throughout the pandemic

The report, along with evidence from talking to young people and teachers in Wales, will help inform a detailed mental well-being impact assessment report that will provide recommendations and is due to be published later this year.

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