Like an iceberg the real danger of this Covid pandemic lies hidden below the surface. Lots of the damaging effects of Covid are communicated to us daily. For example:
- how many new infections there are
- the number of people admitted to hospital
- the number of people who have sadly died
- the amount of people who have had their first dose of the vaccine
- the impact of Covid on the UK economy
What is hidden, and like the iceberg is the most dangerous, is the impact on the forgotten demographic, namely children and young people. Children have not been vaccinated and children are not the ones most significantly affected by the infection. However, they have suffered more than most as a result of the psychological impact of lockdown and societal restrictions.
A poll conducted by the British Science Association (2020) revealed that 67% of young people are concerned about the impact that the pandemic is having on their mental health. This picture is echoed in Young Minds (2021) report. The report highlighted the truly devastating impact that the pandemic was having. This included young people reporting:
- having increased levels of anxiety
- higher incidents of self-harming and panic attacks
- loss of motivation and hope for the future
The pandemic has had a significant impact on the mental health of children and young people who are in developmentally sensitive stages (Courrtney et al. 2020). Social distancing measures introduced to contain the spread of Covid, including the closure of schools, colleges and universities has meant that children and young people who have a high need for interaction with peers have had less contact and connection with others, which has potentially impacted their mental health negatively. For some, lockdown has worsened the problems to which they were already exposed to, such as domestic abuse. While new issues may have emerged for others due to their daily routine being broken. For example the lack of social interactions, physical activity and other activities (Courtney et al. 2020).
As the whole of society was impacted by the pandemic, family and social support are no longer as available as it might have been under normal circumstances, therefore initiatives such as those provided by Say it With Your Chest are extremely important in supporting young people right now:
Personal Development Workshops which give young people the opportunity to connect with others in groups, learn new skills and build resilience.
The Switch Ambassador Programme delivered in secondary schools to help those most at risk of exclusion.
Training for those who work with young people to support students with their behaviour.
Public speaking informing public and policy awareness by delivering talks and presentations.
Personal development is a lifelong process. Early life development through family relationships, school and external experiences help to influence who we are and how we respond to life and the challenges it may bring. During the COVID pandemic, children and young people have lost out on many of these experiences. They have been deprived of education in the normal sense, impacting on their socialisation, friendships and their sense of purpose.
The Young People’s Health Inquiry, found that between the ages of 12 and 24 is a crucial time for young people as they build the foundations for a healthy adulthood (Jordan et al. 2019). This is also a critical time for creating and maintaining relationships with family, friends and the wider community.
Interacting with the wider world helps young people to strengthen social and emotional skills. It is therefore concerning that research has found that due to the lack of social contact due to lockdown, that this may be impacting on young people’s development and their ability to develop important soft skills ( Orben et al. 2020). There are various soft skills such as:
- communication skills
- being able to work in a team
- the ability to solve problems
- being adaptable
Benefits of personal development workshops
The experiences and influences on a young person’s life are not always positive and they may lack the know-how or guidance on how to acquire or develop these skills, without which they may struggle to cope or express themselves appropriately. Through interactive personal development workshops, Say it With Your Chest addresses this by helping young people develop new or existing soft skills. Say it With Your Chest uses experiential activities in the personal development workshops. This means that young people learn through their experience of taking part in structured activities and games.Young people are then encouraged to reflect on the activity or game to consolidate their learning.
Through these workshops young people are able to:
- build greater resilience by identifying coping strategies
- learn how to cope with change
- make more informed decisions
- boost their confidence
- understand how conflict may arise and how to deal with it
- improve their communication skills
- learn how to strengthen relationships and connect with others
These workshops are essential in helping young people to get back on track following the impact of COVID-19. As with an iceberg, we can see the obvious but there is so much more happening beneath that will not have been captured as part of the pandemic statistics. Young people need and deserve all the help and guidance we can offer them. As we look forward to returning to normality, we want to offer them hope of a better future.
British Science Association (2020). Accessed on: https://www.britishscienceassociation.org/news/the-forgotten-generation-the-impacts-of-covid-19-on-young-people
Courtney, D., Watson, P., Battaglia, M., Mulsant, B. H. & Szatmari, P. (2020) COVID-19 Impacts on Child and Youth Anxiety and Depression: Challenges and Opportunities. Can. J. Psychiatry 65, 688–691
Jordan, M., Kane, M., & Bibby., J (2019). A healthy foundation for the future. The final report from the Young people’s health enquiry. Accessed
Orben A, Tomova L, Blakemore S (2020) The effects of social deprivation on adolescent social development and mental health. https://psyarxiv.com/7afmd/download?format=pdf
Young Minds (2021). Accessed on: https://youngminds.org.uk/about-us/reports/coronavirus-impact-on-young-people-with-mental-health-needs/#covid-19-january-2021-survey