The number of young people suffering from anxiety nearly doubled from 13 percent to 24 percent during the early stages of the first lockdown due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to a new study from the University of Bristol.
The research revealed that those between the ages of twenty-seven and twenty-nine reported higher levels of anxiety during the early phases of the pandemic and the levels were higher than their parents. Even when lockdown restrictions started to ease in early summer, the researchers found that anxiety levels remained high and expected that trend to continue through this winter.
The team tapped into expansive data from Bristol’s Children of the ’90s questionnaire, part of a health study in which 14,500 pregnant women were recruited in 1991 and 1992 in order to collect nearly three decades worth of health and lifestyle data about the mothers and their babies, who are now nearing age thirty.
“The highly detailed Children of the ’90s questionnaire data reveals a worrying rise in young people’s anxiety—this looks like it is due to the pandemic itself and potentially the societal and economic fallout caused by the lockdown measures used to control the spread of the virus,” the study’s co-author Dr. Alex Kwong said in a news release.
“Evidence suggests this is not going to be a short-term issue and that mental health support and interventions are urgently required to reduce some of the mental health inequalities that have emerged.”
The study was able to pinpoint specific groups that were at higher risk of suffering from poorer mental health. They included women, those with pre-existing health conditions, those living alone during the pandemic, those who are currently self-isolating, and those with financial-related problems.
“The findings suggest that there is a need to protect mental health at this time (especially managing anxiety) and support mental health services,” the study’s co-author Dr. Rebecca Pearson said in a release.
“It is especially important to learn lessons from the first lockdown now that we are in a second lockdown. The findings also provide evidence for supporting specific groups at greater mental health risk, such as those living alone. Support bubbles for single adults and single parents (which have been allowed from the outset this lockdown) could be beneficial to mental health, but we need to understand the role of social isolation better.”
In August, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the number of Americans who reported symptoms related to anxiety rose threefold compared to last year.
Moreover, as many as one in four people aged eighteen to twenty-four seriously considered suicide. In the general population, the CDC reported that 11 percent of adults had similar thoughts.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.