Anxiety levels among young adolescents plummeted during the coronavirus pandemic, a study suggested.
Young people aged 13 to 14 were less anxious during the lockdown than they were last October, according to the University of Bristol survey.
Researchers interviewed 1,000 secondary school students in the south-west of England.
They said the results were a “big surprise” and raised questions about the impact of the school environment on adolescent mental health.
The results come after Professor Chris Whitty, the UK’s chief medical adviser, said children were more likely to be harmed by not returning to school than they were if they caught a coronavirus.
The UK’s four chief doctors have sought to allay parents’ concerns ahead of schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland reopen in the coming days. Schools in Scotland have already returned.
In a joint statement, the four chief medical officers of the countries said the evidence suggested schools were “probably not a common transmission route.”
And in a bid to encourage parents to send their children back to school, Boris Johnson said it was “vitally important” that students return to the classroom, with life chances for a generation in. Game.
The researchers compared the results of a survey conducted in October last year to responses given by teenagers in May of this year. Both girls and boys experienced a decrease in anxiety levels during this time.
In October, 54% of girls aged 13 to 14 and 26% of boys the same age said they were anxious.
In a survey in May – weeks after schools closed to most students and nationwide lockdown restrictions took effect – the proportion fell to 45% of girls and 18% of boys .
Researchers interviewed 1,000 ninth graders from 17 secondary schools in the southwest of England.
“With the whole world in the throes of a devastating pandemic, which has turned everyone’s lives upside down, the natural expectation would be to see an increase in anxiety,” said lead author Emily Widnall.
“Although we saw the level of anxiety increase in a few of our participants, it was a big surprise to find out that it was the opposite for many of them. ”
Miss Widnall said students who felt the least connected to school before the lockdown saw greater decrease in anxiety, raising questions about how the school environment affects the mental well-being of some young adolescents.
Dr Judi Kidger, University of Bristol, said: “Our findings raise questions about the role of the school environment in explaining the increase in mental health problems among adolescents in recent years.
“As schools reopen, we need to consider ways in which schools can better support the mental health of all students.”
There was a 2% decrease in boys at risk for depression and a 3% increase in girls at risk for depression.
The results were published in a report from the National School of Health Research for Public Health Research.
Meanwhile, the UK’s largest teachers’ union has accused the government of ditching students, teachers and parents by failing to have a ‘plan B’ if infections increase.
The National Education Union, which represents more than 450,000 members, said more staff, additional teaching space and greater clarity on what to do in case of a peak in cases is needed. for schools to reopen safely.
Pupils in Northern Ireland entering grades 7, 12 and 14 are expected to return to school full time on Monday, with the rest returning from August 31. In England and Wales, pupils will return to school from September 1st.
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