Dr James Arkell features in New Statesman on the mixed adolescent psychological response to COVID

Dr James Arkell, Nightingale Hospital consultant psychiatrist, features in a new article by Rachel Kelly for New Statesman.

The article illustrates that whilst there is much research into the mental health impacts of COVID on adults, the research on young people’s well-being is minimal. However, research has  “concluded that children were showing higher levels of anxiety and depression when schools were closed.”

However, according to Dr James Arkell, problems affecting young people’s mental health pre-dates the pandemic.

Dr Arkell says “the deteriorating mental health of young people has been going on for at least a decade”, pointing to data from the US which shows the decline in young people’s mental health has been a trend since the appearance of social media in the mid-2000s.

The piece highlights that the psychological response of adolescents to the COVID-19 pandemic depends greatly on their socio-economic background.

Dr Arkell indicates that for children in affluent areas of London, their lockdown experience may even be a “positive” mental health experience.

“Covid is disproportionately affecting the bottom end of the social scale. In Queen’s Park, west London, for example, there has been what we might call a ‘Covid gift’ for some young people. Families live in nice houses. Children have gardens and new puppies. In some ways, the mental health impact of the pandemic has even been positive.”

“Those who live nearby in Willesden Lane, for example, are facing a different world, of knife crime and hunger, issues made even more serious because of the pandemic. Naturally, their mental health is more at risk.”

To read the full article on New Statesman, please click here.

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