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Half of teens ‘unable to stop worrying’ at times during Covid-19 pandemic

By Jemma Crew, PA Social Affairs Correspondent
·2 min read

Half of British teenagers have been unable to stop worrying at times during the coronavirus pandemic, according to research.

The majority of young people have also felt alone, worried and believe the virus will damage their future, a study by the Mental Health Foundation and Swansea University found.

Researchers surveyed 2,375 British teenagers aged 13 to 19 between August 24 and September 8.

Half of the respondents said they had not been able to stop or control their worrying at times during the two weeks prior to the survey.

More than two thirds (69%) of the teenagers said they had felt alone during the pandemic, and 58% have felt they have had no-one to talk to.

And 68% fear the crisis will make the future worse for their generation.

Catherine Seymour, head of research at the Mental Health Foundation, said: “Our research shows high levels of anxiety among teenagers, about how the pandemic will affect their futures and their mental health.

“Teenagers’ fears for the future may weaken their confidence and hope for themselves, at a crucial and already difficult time of their lives. Their sense of a bleaker future may also make it harder for them to cope emotionally.

“I am especially concerned about the young people who say they often feel alone or with no-one to talk to, because we know that connecting with others is a critically important way in which we cope with difficult experiences.”

One teenager involved in the study said: “At this point, I’m just exhausted.

“Luckily, I have some financial support from my parents but they also rely on me sometimes and it’s like: ‘what am I supposed to do when I’m supposed to help my siblings in the morning, when I can’t even find a job?’. I’m not that hopeful, in terms of a career.”

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We are absolutely committed to supporting the mental wellbeing of children and young people, and we know prevention and early intervention is vital.

“Through the NHS Long Term Plan we are expanding children and young people’s mental health services to support an additional 345,000 individuals by 2023/24, backed by an extra £2.3 billion per year.

“NHS mental health services have remained open throughout the pandemic and in September we launched a new Every Mind Matters campaign aimed at children and young people with tips and advice to promote mental wellbeing and equip parents and carers with the tools to support them during challenging periods.”