By Sian Hopkins
Recent figures from the Royal Society for Public Health’s survey, as seen in the Independent, indicate that lockdown has had a detrimental effect on the mental health of young people.
According to this survey, around 70 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds are experiencing more anxiety than usual, with nearly two-thirds of this age range having more frequent feelings of loneliness than the 21 percent of people aged between 65 and 74.
An added worry for young people
I have found that since lockdown, whilst certain social anxieties may have relaxed, all of my stress has clung specifically to anxieties about my own health and what my life may look like without day-to-day contact with my friends.
Many students who returned home at the beginning of lockdown have had to make a sudden change from their independent, university life to an old reliance on their home situation. In the beginning, I found this comfortable, yet in entering our 17th week of lockdown my own company and lack of connection to the outside world is beginning to aggravate me. This brings a feeling of guilt, as my home is welcoming and my family is very understanding, but I know that others are not so lucky. These feelings of isolation and anxiety are, however, proving very common amongst most young people.
Neuroscientists have acknowledged that the stage of adolescence, between the ages 10 and 24, is a key, yet vulnerable stage in people’s lives. Socialising is important, as well as hormonal changes making it a prominent time for brain development.
Lockdown, therefore, whilst keeping us physically safe, has major consequences on young people’s mental health.
Why then do we feel like we have to suffer alone when so many of us are going through the same thing?
Is there a right way to act during a lockdown?
The primary message regarding how to spend your time during lockdown has become so focused on using this time as an opportunity for new things, new projects and to step back and look at our lives for some warped self-discovery. This may be a motivation for some people, but I personally see these optimistic messages as beginning to prevent any real help or solution to the rising mental health crisis in young people.
Around 58 percent of people aged from 18 to 24 suggested that the government wasn’t doing enough to protect the public’s mental wellbeing. Mental health difficulties and stress have always been a massive taboo within our society, with connotations of such suffering associated with being weak.
Lockdown is an experience no one expected to live through and will shape many lives going forward, so our government and education services should be trying to encourage young people to reach out for help and providing them with the resources to do so.
A positive mindset is integral for progress
Moving forward through a lockdown and the Coronavirus pandemic, make sure to be kind and compassionate towards yourself as much as you can.
There is no pressure to be doing anything during this period of time and it is ok to admit to being anxious and stressed, whether this may be about your health, future, or any other personal situation.
No matter how isolated you are feeling, you are not on your own.
If you feel as though you have been struggling with your mental health and anxiety surrounding COVID-19, here are some resources you can visit: