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Loneliness and self-harm in adolescents during lockdown serious concerns about a student’s safety or mental health

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September saw the publication of the results of a survey of 10,000 secondary school pupils. The OxWell School Survey is a repeated cross-sectional, self-report survey on children and adolescents’ mental health and well-being, commencing in 2019. The 2020 survey was completed during June-July either on school premises or from home due to partial school closures during the first COVID-19 UK national lockdown.

This study showed that:

One in six adolescents experienced intense feelings of loneliness in the early stages of the pandemic, with one in three feeling lonelier than before ·

One in 15 adolescents had self-harmed during the first lockdown

Self-harm was twice as common in adolescents who report experiencing intense loneliness, and feeling lonelier than before lockdown increased the risk of self-harm during lockdown

The findings highlight the importance of addressing both loneliness and self-harm in adolescent school pupils as part of an effort to improve their well-being and reduce their risk of self-harm. It is also necessary to continue to monitor loneliness and self-harm in young people in the community in the longer term, as the pandemic and its resultant social and financial impacts unfold. Understanding how loneliness and self-harm may co-vary can be important for future self-harm reduction strategies in young persons.

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