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Teenage boys have been most severely impacted in terms of mental health due to the Covid lockdowns.

Teenage boys have been most severely impacted in terms of mental health due to the Covid lockdowns.

According to a thorough academic research, teenage males experienced the biggest impact from the Covid lockdowns and even after the situation returned to normal, their mental well-being did not improve.

Initial studies on the impact of lockdown on children showed that girls experienced more pronounced mental health issues compared to boys.

However, a new study carried out by academics from three UK universities, published in the journal European Child + Adolescent Psychiatry, found that over the long term, teenage boys’ mental health was more adversely affected.

The study tracked a group of approximately 200 children, ages 11 to 14 years old, and surveyed both them and their mothers to evaluate their mental well-being. Data was collected from each child prior to the implementation of lockdown measures, three months after they began, and once more 15 months into the pandemic.

The data was compared by researchers to historical records that display the typical trend of psychological health among adolescent boys and girls.

The researchers discovered that both males and females experienced a decrease in their mental health initially, however, boys did not see the typical increases in mental well-being that typically occur during their teenage years.

According to Dr. Nicky Wright, a psychology professor at Manchester Metropolitan University and one of the authors of the study, the main finding is that an increase in the number of boys experiencing mental health challenges is expected due to the current pandemic.

Boris Johnson announces the first lockdown in March 2020View image in fullscreen

“Girls, on average, are more likely to suffer with mental health problems than boys. But the girls in the study followed their usual pattern, suggesting the experience of lockdown had a more significant impact on boys than girls.

Wright stated that the rate of depression among girls was not affected by the pandemic. Taking into consideration factors such as puberty and development, the findings align with past patterns.

It has been four years since the initial UK lockdown was declared on 23 March 2020. As a result, schools shut down and teenagers found themselves deprived of social interaction, spending an average of six hours a day without their peers. Home schooling tasks assigned by teachers typically took two to three hours for teens to finish, but with many parents working, they were often left alone for extended periods.

The pandemic years made it difficult for students transitioning between primary and secondary school to integrate into new social circles and establish new friendships due to lockdowns.

Due to the current circumstances, higher education institutions have transitioned to online lectures and seminars for older adolescents. This has made it difficult for incoming students to connect and establish relationships with their peers.

Wendy Gregory, a psychologist and author, stated that the results of the study reflected the changes seen in her private practice client roster. She expressed concern about the detrimental effects of lockdown on mental health, especially in boys and young men. She has observed an increase in individuals seeking therapy as a result.

There has been a significant increase in the number of males seeking mental health assistance across all age groups. Specifically, there has been a substantial rise among teen boys.

Dr. Jen Wills Lamacq, a child psychologist working in state schools in south London, has personally witnessed the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of boys. She has observed an increase in challenging behavior and believes that the decline in mental health among young males is linked to the disruption of their lives during a critical period of adolescent development.

According to her, many young males may prefer to spend time outdoors, engaging in physical activities with others rather than discussing their emotions, in order to regulate their emotions. However, due to extended periods of lacking such opportunities, they may struggle to maintain their mental well-being in a way that comes naturally to them.

For parents of teenage boys and young men, the results may not be shocking. A single mother named Rebecca* from London has shared that her teenage son, who was already undergoing counseling before the pandemic, experienced a breakdown during lockdown which led to him becoming violent and requiring the police to intervene.

During his GCSE exams, he was greatly relieved by the lockdown because it meant he didn’t have to attend school, which often triggered his anxiety. However, the loss of routine was difficult for him and he eventually experienced a breakdown. This led to a psychotic episode where he heard voices. The police were called and they handled the situation harshly, even putting him in handcuffs in front of me,” she shared.

Rebecca’s son is now an adult and his health has improved from that crisis point, but she says lockdown has had a lasting impact on his mental wellbeing. “I think it was dreadful. I think there will be repercussions for years to come for all kids,” she said.

Source: theguardian.com