The significant impact COVID-19 has had on the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people on the Island is clear, with young people’s confidence in their future and happiness unquestionably damaged.
In 2021, the independent charity undertook it’s third Island Youth Mental Health Census. A total of 2,241 responses were received from children and young people aged 7 to 25 from across the Island, taking the total number of survey responses received by the Trust in the past 3 years to over 9,000.
With the findings from this Census, along with those from the 2019 Census, and 2 COVID touchpoint surveys undertaken in 2020 and early 2021, it is now possible to track the significant impact the pandemic has had on the mental health and wellbeing of young people on the Island.
More young people are reporting feeling alone and isolated, they have been unable to spend time with their friends and peers, they have become increasingly reliant on damaging social media platforms for social interaction. They have also had more time to reflect. Nearly a quarter of respondents aged 11-25 identified as LGBTQ+ in 2021 (an 11% increase from 2019), a further 10% of young people reported being unsure of their sexuality.
Key findings of the research included:
- 74% of 7–11-year-olds and 78% 11-25 years olds have been worrying a lot – a 16% and 6% increase respectively from 2019
- 67% of respondents have often felt unhappy, down or tearful (a 7% increase from 2019)
- 64% of respondents have felt lacking in energy and enthusiasm – for the 11–25-year-olds this figure was 69% (a 12% increase from 2019)
- 45% of respondents have felt terribly alone and isolated (a 5% increase from 2019). In 2021 8% more 11–25-year-olds reported feeling terribly alone and isolated than they did 2019
- 36% of respondents aged 11-25 hide or sometimes hide their eating habits
- 35% of respondents aged 11-25 have deliberately hurt themselves (a 6% increase from 2019)
- 30% of respondents do not feel positive about themselves
- 29% of 11–25-year-olds have received unwanted sexual content on social media. Just over 6% of them have had intimate images of themselves shared WITHOUT consent
- 15% of respondents aged 7-11 do not feel positive about their future, for the 11–25-year-olds, this figure almost doubles to 29%
- 14% of respondent aged 11-25 have attempted to take their own life (a 3% increase from 2019)
The Trust’s Census findings are reflective of the findings of The Prince’s Trust NatWest Youth Index 2022 which presented an ‘irrefutable truth’ that the pandemic threatens to scar the UK’s young people for life unless action is taken now.
Under new leadership and as part of ambitions transformation plans, the Youth Trust is committed to delivering a service that remains accessible and relevant to the needs of young people aged 4-25 on the Island. The findings of the Trust’s research and conversations with young islanders are helping prioritise need and helping to shape the organisations new strategy which will be launched in the upcoming months.
Youth Trust CEO Jo Dare comments:
“These findings reflect the reasons children, young people and their families are reaching out for support from the Youth Trust. Whilst anxiety remains by far the most common concern young Islanders are presenting with to our Counsellors and Wellbeing practitioners, we are seeing increasing numbers of young people seeking support for low mood, disordered eating and self-harm.
“We remain committed to listening to the voices of children and young people on the Island and it is heartening to see more young people than ever before being aware of the work of the Trust. But, there is still much work to do to ensure all young people can access the right support, in the right place and at the right time.”
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