Living in a Pandemic: What are the effects of COVID-19 on the mental health of the youth?

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Wireko Andrew Awuah, a Ghanaian medical student of Sumy State University, Ukraine and Ms. Pavi Brar, currently a MSc Global Health and Social Justice student at King’s College London. They are affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


Over the past year, each and every one of us has been in some way affected by the corona-virus pandemic that has engulfed every corner of the globe. As new variants of the virus continue to emerge, scientists and researchers face a continuous battle to overcome what has been described as a “global health crisis unlike any”.  As communities continue to pull-together and survive through lockdowns, physical social distancing measures, and wearing of masks, there remains an invisible battle that many face alone. The pandemic has been a daunting time for everyone, but even more so for young people facing mental health challenges as result of the fear and anxiety this ‘new normal’ brings.

A survey conducted by Young Minds in Summer 2020 found that 80% of young people agreed that the coronavirus pandemic had made their mental health worse. Increased anxiety and fear has been caused by the unknown nature of the virus and overall pandemic situation. In addition to the loss of friends and loved ones, many have experienced a loss of motivation caused by sudden closures of schools and workplaces, while some have also been faced with loss of support and coping mechanisms previously provided by friends and family through regular physical meetings. 87% of young people reported feeling lonely or isolated during lockdown periods.

Closure of schools, colleges, and universities further exacerbated feelings of stress and anxiety. While the pandemic was most definitely going to impact young people’s social lives, it also held the power to impact their careers in the long term. Being unable to take important exams such as GCSEs and A-Levels has had a knock-on effect on University admissions and entry into the job market. Although this generation may be able to recover from the more social impacts of the pandemic (eg. loneliness and isolation), many young people wonder whether the impacts of the pandemic on their work and careers may last much longer, if not their whole lifetime 

The COVID-19 Pandemic’s impact on young people’s mental health is not simply limited to feelings of fear, anxiety, and depression. Referrals of urgent cases of eating disorders among the youth in England during 2020 has doubled. Isolation, loneliness, and financial adversities caused by the pandemic also likely to increase the risk of self-harm and substance abuse amongst this age group.

The COVID-19 pandemic is an ongoing situation, and despite progress with vaccination programmes, it is unlikely that the world returns to the pre-pandemic ‘normal’ anytime soon. It is imperative that we are aware of this lesser known battle faced by many young people and ensure adequate measures are in place to help and support them. This generation of young people have proven to be strong and resilient, embracing all the challenges they have faced over the past year. We must protect and nurture their mental health, allowing them the opportunity to flourish and be the hope of our future. 

References

Guterres, A., 2020. “This is, above all, a human crisis that calls for solidarity” | United Nations. [online] United Nations. Available at: https://www.un.org/en/un-coronavirus-communications-team/above-all-human-crisis-calls-solidarity

YoungMinds, 2020. Survey 2: Summer 2020. Coronavirus: Impact on young people with mental health needs. [online] London: YoungMinds. Available at: https://youngminds.org.uk/media/3904/coronavirus-report-summer-2020-final.pdf

Ford, T., John, A. and Gunnell, D., 2021. Mental health of children and young people during pandemic. BMJ, p.n614. Available at: https://www.bmj.com/content/bmj/372/bmj.n614.full.pdf

About the author

Wireko Andrew Awuah is a Ghanaian medical student of Sumy State University, Ukraine.  He serves as an Editorial Board Member of the Harvard Public Health Review, and 4 other reputable journals in the UK, Canada and India.  Andrew is a proud winner of best International Medical Student Award 2020, Sumy State University.

Pavi Brar is currently a MSc Global Health and Social Justice student at King’s College London. She is currently interested in researching the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly on young people, and lessons to be learnt in building forward better.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Why the foundations of the modern world are costing the earth

World Cancer Day: Early cervical cancer diagnosis could save lives of over 300,000 women

Covid-19 crisis shows supply chains need to embrace new technologies

What is adversarial artificial intelligence and why does it matter?

MEPs want to ensure sufficient funding for Connecting Europe’s future

Two out of every five American couples now meet online

Trade defence report: restoring the level playing field for European producers

Peace operations benefit from improved cooperation between the UN and troop-providing countries, says peacekeeping chief

Switzerland has the most highly skilled workers in the world. This is why

Infringement – Commission takes Italy to Court for its incomplete regime of access to genetic resources

Capital Markets Union: Making it easier for insurers to invest in the real economy

Venezuela: ‘A worrying destabilizing factor in the region’, Bachelet tells Human Rights Council

How cocoa farming can help stop deforestation

Inaction over climate emergency ‘not an option’ says UN Assembly chief

A Year in China

Drug laws must be amended to ‘combat racial discrimination’, UN experts say

What UK and EU risk if Brexit “wins” these elections

€200 million to promote European agri-food products in and outside the EU

Palliative care and Universal Health Coverage: how to advocate for the inclusion of palliative care in UHC

Eurozone in trouble after Nicosia’s ‘no’

Questions and Answers on the EU Digital Covid Certificate

The Shifting Rhythms of Harmonious China: Ancient, Modern & Eternal

Obsolete tech is clogging up global trade. Here’s how to unblock it

Rebuilding after COVID: The challenge is digital

UNIDO promotes post-harvest excellence for mangoes in the Mekong River Delta of Viet Nam

Palliative Care: a human right

Collective action now, the only way to meet global challenges, Guterres reaffirms in annual report

NHS: A great healthcare system but how accessible is it to migrants?

Sub10 Systems @ MWC14: Bridging the Ethernet of the Future

Citizens to be the cornerstone of the Conference on the Future of Europe

Lessons learnt, unlearnt or re-learnt? Analyzing the third wave of COVID-19

The post-pandemic future of work – according to 3,000 CEOs from around the world

Growing a new coral reef in a fraction of the time with a fragment of the coral

Poland: €676 million worth of EU investments in better rails and roads

Main results of EU-Japan summit: Tokyo, 17/07/2018

Ocean life faces ‘onslaught of threats’ from human activity, but tools exist to save it

270 million people are migrants, who send home a staggering $689 billion

Human rights: breaches in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Sudan

Climate action ‘both a priority and a driver of the decade’: Guterres

Coronavirus Global Response: WHO and Commission launch the Facilitation Council to strengthen global collaboration

As tech disrupts our jobs, it’s not too late to turn pain into gain

State aid: Commission approves €2 billion Italian guarantee scheme to support trade credit insurance market in the context of the coronavirus outbreak

Teachers launch a free ebook to help children cope with the pandemic

COVID-19 has been a setback for women. Gender-responsive policies can stem the losses

How COVID-19 vaccine efforts could help defeat other diseases

European financial values on the rise

Human Rights breaches in Iran, Kazakhstan and Guatemala

COVID-19: EU helps to deliver vaccines to Moldova and medical items to Montenegro and North Macedonia

UN Human Rights chief urges Venezuela to halt grave rights violations

West Bank: ‘imminent’ demolition of Palestinian village could be ‘war crime’ – ICC Prosecutor

Cities will lead the electric transport revolution. Here’s why

An alternative view of Globalization 4.0, and how to get there

This is what Belgium’s traffic-choked capital is doing about emissions

Closing the gaps in accelerating women’s rights: the role of medical students

Companies ‘failing’ to address offline harm incited by online hate: UN expert

Why the 33,000 staff European Commission did not have a real contingency plan for the refugee crisis?

‘Maintain calm’ and ‘exercise patience’ UN envoy urges, as Nigeria heads to polls

This UK footballer just won free school meals for kids in the summer holidays

6 stages for fostering and harnessing imagination in companies

‘We will not give up on looking for peace for South Sudan’: UN deputy chief

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: