Background Little is known about the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of young people aged 16–19 or their attitudes towards COVID-19 vaccination. Social media suggests this demographic is not coping positively with the new changes implemented by the pandemic. Collecting data on their opinions may help with planning support for this generation of young people.
Objectives To explore the mental health impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic and the attitude toward coronavirus vaccines on young people aged 16–19, living in the UK.
Methods Links were posted on Instagram and Snapchat inviting students aged 16–19 to partake in an anonymous online survey during the last week of December 2020. The survey reached 115 people; they were asked questions on the changes to their mental health, the effect of COVID-19 and their attitude towards the newly developed vaccines.
Results 42/115 people responded to the survey, 95% of which were sixth form students aged 16(65.9%) to 17(26.8%), mostly White British (82.9%) or Asian (12.2%). The majority of responders are in Tier 4(53.7%) followed by Tier 2(41.5%); 78% lived with >4 people. 2/42 (5.0%) had been diagnosed with COVID-19 whilst 90.0% have had a friend/family member diagnosed.
25/41(61.0%) of the responder’s felt their mental health worsened over the pandemic; 10/41(24.39%) had a previously existing diagnosed mental health condition. The prevailing symptoms experienced included feeling anxious (83.0%), getting frustrated easily (78.0%), a foreboding sense (78.0%), unexplained worrying (70.7%) and difficulty relaxing (65.9%). Respondents were significantly concerned about the pandemic affecting their education (85.4%) and career choices (70.7%).
When asked about home life, 47.5% have trouble studying, 31.7% have trouble concentrating, 24.4% have trouble sleeping and 12.2% have trouble eating. 14/41 (34.1%) respondents express negative behaviour toward their families, 30.8% felt more isolated from their family and 28.2% argue more with their family. Contrastingly, 23.1% were talking more and 28.2% felt closer to their family. The thought of transmitting coronavirus to a vulnerable person (90.0%) or transmitting coronavirus to a family member or friend (75.5%) majorly worried the majority of respondents.
When asked about the newly developed vaccine, 70.0% expressed confidence in its safety while 53.6% felt following the vaccination their mental health could improve. 25.0% stated they would not take the vaccine if given a chance.
Respondents reckon less pressure at school (48.8%), additional mental health support (46.3%), having someone to talk to (46.3%), information on where to receive support (43.9%) and after school clubs (43.9%) would improve their mental health.
Conclusions Over the pandemic, the mental health of people aged 16–19 has worsened - they are experiencing a range of negative emotions and insomnia. Respondents perceive a more dysfunctional relationship with their family. Many believe the pandemic has affected their education and will affect their future career. To combat this decline, they might need more mental health support and less pressure. A large percentage of them may not voluntarily take the coronavirus vaccine; this highlights the need for education about the origin and production of the vaccine to gain confidence in its safety.
Statistics from Altmetric.com
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