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Changes in mental health symptoms (Sept 2020)

Key findings

Within the Co-SPACE sample, on the basis of parent report, over a one-month period early in lockdown:

  • In primary school aged children, there were mean increases in emotional, behavioural and restlessness/inattention difficulties. The proportion of children likely to have significant difficulties (i.e., meet diagnostic criteria for a clinical diagnosis) in these 3 areas also increased, by up to 35%.
  • In young people of secondary school age, there was a reduction in emotional difficulties, no change in behavioural difficulties and a slight increase in restlessness/inattention. The proportion of young people within this age range likely to have significant emotional difficulties did not change but did increase for difficulties with behaviour and restlessness/inattention.
  • For children and young people from low income households, emotional and attention difficulties (and behaviour difficulties for primary school aged children) were consistently elevated compared to those from higher income households, with around two and a half times as many children experiencing significant problems in low income households.

Infographic with text: During lockdown, emotional and restless attentional difficulties were consistently elevated among children and young people from lower income households compared to higher income households

  • There were similar levels of emotional, behavioural and restless/attention difficulties for children and young people from single and multiple adult households, but primary school aged children from single adult households were reported as having more emotional difficulties than those from multiple adult households throughout lockdown.