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Changes in children mental health symptoms from March to October 2020

Focus of this report

In this report, we focus on parent/carer reports of their children’s mental health symptoms at monthly intervals from March to October 2020 (by which time UK schools had reopened for the new academic year).

Key findings

Based on average scores of parent/carer reports within the Co- SPACE sample:

  • Behavioural and restless/attentional difficulties increased through the lockdown from March to June. This was especially the case in primary school aged children (4-10 years old).

Behavioural and restless/attentional difficulties increased through the lockdown from March to June. This was especially the case in primary school aged children (4-10 years old).

  • In secondary school aged children (11-17 year old), emotional difficulties slightly decreased at the beginning of the lockdown (March to April).
  • Behavioural, emotional, and restless/ attentional difficulties appear to have decreased after the lockdown eased, from July, throughout the summer holidays, and through the opening of schools in September (especially in primary school aged children).

Behavioural and restless/attentional difficulties increased through the lockdown from March to June. This was especially the case in primary school aged children (4-10 years old).

  • Secondary school aged girls were reported to have higher levels of emotional difficulties than boys overall, with an increase at the end of the summer (July to August) before the reopening of schools.
  • Restless/attentional difficulties in secondary school aged children (11-17 year old) decreased from August to September. Overall, they were higher in secondary school aged boys than girls, especially in June.
  • Children with SEN/ND and those from lower income household (< £16,000 p.a.) had elevated and relatively stable levels of behavioural, emotional, and restless/ attentional difficulties throughout the whole period (March to October).

Children with SEN/ND and those from lower income household (< £16,000 p.a.) had elevated and relatively stable levels of behavioural, emotional, and restless/ attentional difficulties throughout the whole period (March to October).