Return to school sees improvement in children's mental health
Mental health difficulties in children increased during the first national lockdown (between March and June 2020), but have decreased since. The latest report from the Co-SPACE study highlights that for participating primary school aged children:
Over the course of the first national lockdown (March - June 2020), behavioural and restless/attentional difficulties increased, while most children were not attending school.
Behavioural, emotional, and restless/attentional difficulties have generally decreased from July (i.e. when home schooling demands typically reduce), throughout the summer holidays, and as children returned to school in September.
Participating parents and carers reported that their children displayed increasing behaviour difficulties from March to June 2020, including temper tantrums, arguments and not doing what they were being asked to do by adults. They also became more fidgety and restless and had greater difficulty paying attention. However, parents and carers reported a decrease in these difficulties from July to October. Since then, children have also been reported to display fewer emotional difficulties, such as feeling unhappy, worried, being clingy and experiencing physical symptoms associated with worry.
Among participating young people of secondary school age, parent/carer-reported mental health symptoms have been more stable throughout the pandemic. The study also highlighted that children with special education needs and/or neurodevelopmental differences and those from lower income household (< £16,000 p.a.) displayed consistently elevated behavioural, emotional and restlessness/ attentional difficulties over the course of the pandemic.
More than 12,300 parents have now taken part in the Co-SPACE (COVID-19 Supporting Parents, Adolescents, and Children in Epidemics) survey led by experts at the University of Oxford. This research is tracking children and young people’s mental health throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Survey results are helping researchers identify what protects children and young people from deteriorating mental health, over time, and at particular stress points, and how this may vary according to child and family characteristics. This will help to identify what advice, support and help parents would find most useful. Crucially, the study is continuing to collect data in order to determine whether this has changed as schools have re-opened and many children returned to the classroom, as well as any impacts from subsequent lockdowns.
(Content Courtesy: https://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2020-11-16-return-school-sees-improvement-childrens-mental-health)