Young people in Lincolnshire showing signs of stress, anxiety and low mood due to COVID impact

Young people in Lincolnshire are showing signs of stress, anxiety and low mood following the COVID-19 pandemic health bosses have warned.

Lincolnshire County Council’s executive members heard on Monday that although the impact of the virus itself has been minimal — with one in 15 people aged 0-19 testing positive compared to 1 in 12 nationally — the “indirect effects of the pandemic are undeniable and significant”.

A report to leaders concluded: “Though the hard work and collaborative effort of people across Lincolnshire has eased this burden, we are seeing signs of harm and must continue to do all we can to minimise this and give children in Lincolnshire the best start in life.”

It added: “Most significantly, the pandemic has taken its toll on the mental health of the nation and its impact is no less in young people, who are showing signs of stress, anxiety and low mood. This is particularly pronounced among children with SEND and children in care.”

It noted that the pandemic had “highlighted inequalities and vulnerabilities, and threatens to widen the gap in health and well-being between richer and poorer communities.”

Professor Derek Ward told the executive: “Generally children have a mild disease they recover and it doesn’t have muchof a long term impact is what we understand at the moment. But they have to isolate.

Schools have been closed right the way through the pandemic on and off remote learning. While schools have done afantastic job to try to continue education for children and young people, they like to be with those their own age andthey’ve been significantly impacted over the past two years.

“All of that will have an immediate impact but also a medium and long-term impact.”

The report, however, noted “significant strides” to support young people in Lincolnshire during the pandemic and praised services for adapting rapidly.

Professor Ward praised “excellent service provision” and highlighted the value of Children’s Centres in the county.

It said partners had worked together to “empower parents and educators” in the county.

Council leaders praised the report and the work of the council to support young people during the pandemic.

Deputy leader of the council and executive member for children’s services Councillor Patricia Bradwell said: “Young people have struggled the same as adults have. They couldn’t go to school, they couldn’t see their friends and all their social activities like the football or the dance or the you know, music lessons all stopped as well.

“So their life stopped and I think it has made an impact. Some children have bounced back, but some still do struggle.”

In general, the report said young people were less likely to be physically active and there was an increased risk of becoming overweight.

However, it said that as the council moved into COVID-19 recovery it would aim to open up and protect services such as children’s centres and would look to develop a “child and family weight management service”.