Teen Anxiety Might Have Actually Decreased Amid Coronavirus

A new study from the University of Bristol contradicts common sense

teen wearing mask in lockdown
Could lockdown have actually made teens less anxious?
Justin Paget via Getty Images

For many of us, the coronavirus pandemic has marked a time of significantly heightened stress and anxiety. For British school children however, it seems the pandemic might have actually helped ease anxiety.

A new study of British teens from the University of Bristol found that 13- to 14-year-olds were actually less anxious during lockdown than they had been last year, per the BBC. Comparing findings from an October 2019 survey to one taken in May, researchers found both boys and girls reported lower levels of anxiety during lockdown. Last year, 54 percent of girls and 26 percent of boys reported feelings of anxiety, while just 45 percent of girls and 18 percent of boys said the same in May.

Researchers called these results a “big surprise,” adding that the findings raise questions about the potentially negative effects school environments may have on young people’s mental health.

“Our findings raise questions about the role of the school environment in explaining rises in mental health difficulties among teenagers in recent years,” said Dr. Judi Kidger, from the University of Bristol. “As schools reopen, we need to consider ways in which schools can be more supportive of mental health for all students.”

However, these findings contradict results from an earlier survey that found seven out of ten teens reported suffering from some kind of mental health struggles in May. According to that survey, conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of the National 4-H Council, more than half of the 1,500 teens surveyed reported experiences of anxiety, 45 percent said they’d felt stressed, and 43 percent said they’d struggled with depression.

So while British teens appear to be faring better than the rest of us, it seems the kids aren’t exactly alright.

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