Children are suffering from a range of “Covid-related” anxieties including germ-phobia and a fear of failure, a study has found.
The most common mental health problem affecting young people is anxiety, according to a paper published by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER).
Researchers conducted interviews with leaders in 50 schools in some of the most deprived parts of the country.
They found that children in both primary and secondary schools reported an increase in hyper-vigilance, germ-phobia and performance anxiety, also known as the fear of failure.
Interviewees identified a range of “Covid-related” reasons for this, such as social isolation during lockdown, pupils experiencing illness and death in the family, and increased parental anxiety.
On June 28, The Telegraph launched a campaign calling on ministers to put children first as the country recovers from its Covid lockdowns, with action to bring an end to the disruption in schools.
Brightest pupils anxious about exam changes
Some secondary pupils said they were worried about their future, including the brightest pupils who were anxious about the implications of changes to exams, researchers found.
The report recommended that the Government’s catch-up plans should focus just as much on children’s emotional wellbeing as it does on their academic abilities.
“The Government needs urgently to review the provision in place to address the surge in Covid-related anxiety and mental health issues among children and young people,” the report said.
Several leaders who were interviewed for the study cited a rise in bad behaviour of pupils and pointed out that this was often a sign of underlying issues, such as pupils experiencing trauma and being unable to communicate their feelings.
They said these issues had been exacerbated by pupils’ experiences during lockdown, while some say social distancing measures have led to aggression as some pupils were fed up with spending so much time with the same pupils.