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.