Study: Children feel anxious and isolated during coronavirus lockdowns

Finnish children said their mental wellness had been impacted by school closures, with charities urging more social service support for young people when schools return.

File picture of kindergarten children on a group outing with teachers / Credit: iStock

A new report from Save the Children Finland highlights the levels of anxiety, boredom and feelings of isolation experienced by children during the coronavirus restrictions.

The charity talked with more than 6,000 children and parents in Finland, Germany, USA, Spain and the UK to ask about their experiences of lockdown during the pandemic.

While some countries are now starting to ease their coronavirus restrictions, and planning a return to school for students, many other countries are not opening schools just yet and the pandemic restrictions have impacted an estimated 1.3 billion children and young people worldwide.

The survey found that overall nearly a quarter of children felt anxious with limited social contact during school closures. As many as 65% of children said they had feelings of boredom and isolation. Save the Children warns that the situation can potentially lead to longer-term mental wellbeing issues like depression.

In Finland specifically, 72% of children and young people who took part in the survey reported feeling anxious while 56% said they felt tired.

“Children are suffering from a huge upheaval that has never been seen in our lifetimes. There have been several sudden changes in their lives, and we do not yet know exactly the long-term effects of these.¬†We need to be vigilant and do everything we can to limit the negative effects of this situation on children and young people” says Marie Dahl, Director of Save the Children International Unit for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support.

Save the Children Finland says that support and services should be made available to all children, especially immediately after restrictions are lifted.

“In Finland, it must be ensured that now that the restrictions are lifted, children in need of child protection who have been hidden during school closures and their families will receive the support they need” says Kirsi Kettunen, Save the Children’s Chief Physician.

The organisation cautions that if restrictions need to be put back in place in future, that the closure of schools and kindergartens should be “at the very bottom of the list.”