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Children: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Education

UIN 119823, tabled on 7 February 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment his Department has made on the impact of covid-19 lockdowns and school closures on children’s mental health.

Answered on

10 February 2022

The department knows that the COVID-19 outbreak and the associated measures and restrictions, such as social distancing and school closures, has been impacting the mental wellbeing of some children and young people. The department published its third annual state of the nation report on 8 February, identifying trends in children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing recovery over the course of the 2020/21 academic year, as well as their views about society and the future. Details of the report can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/state-of-the-nation-2021-children-and-young-peoples-wellbeing.

The findings show that overall, children’s wellbeing has remained largely stable across previous years although increasing virus prevalence rates and changing restrictions have coincided with fluctuation in levels of wellbeing throughout the period covered by the report.

The report also shows that while the proportion of children and young people with a probable mental disorder increased from 11.6% of 6-to-16-year-olds in 2017 to 16% in summer 2020, this increasing trend has stabilised with 16.4% of this age group having a probable disorder in spring 2021.

Evidence that children and young people with particular characteristics may have experienced more negative effects due to the COVID-19 outbreak has also been identified, such as those with special educational needs, from disadvantaged backgrounds or those with long-term physical health. This information has been used to inform the support measures put in place by the government.

The department continues to work closely with health partners, voluntary sector partners, and clinical experts to understand and monitor impact and children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing through recovery and respond in the current context. A summary of relevant published sources of information is available in the children and young people chapter of the Office for Health Improvement & Disparities COVID-19 mental health and wellbeing surveillance report, which is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-mental-health-and-wellbeing-surveillance-report/7-children-and-young-people.

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