Primary school children are displaying more signs of emotional and mental health problems during lockdown, a new study has revealed.

Research from the University of Oxford shows more parents are reporting more cases of their child showing feelings of unhappiness and anxiety.

The study also reveals more children aged between four and ten are becoming more clingy in lockdown, while there are slo been an increase in behavioral problems, such as temper tantrums, acts of disobedience and arguments. 

Children aged between four and ten are displaying more signs of emotional difficulty according to a study by the University of Oxford

Children aged between four and ten are displaying more signs of emotional difficulty according to a study by the University of Oxford

Children aged between four and ten are displaying more signs of emotional difficulty according to a study by the University of Oxford 

Over 10,000 parents and carers are taking part in the survey, which is tracking the impact of coronavirus on the mental health of young children. 

The university study’s co-lead, Professor Cathy Creswell, who specialises in developmental clinical psychology, said: ‘Prioritising the mental health of children and young people throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond is critical.

‘These findings highlight that there is wide variation in how children and young people have been affected, with some finding life easier but others experiencing more difficulties.

‘Our findings have identified some sources of variation but we need to continue to gain a better understanding of which families are struggling and what they need to help direct the right advice and support going forward to ensure that this does not have long-lasting consequences.’

Oxford University's Professor Cathy Creswell, who co-led the study, says raising awareness of the mental health of primary school children during lockdown is a priority

Oxford University's Professor Cathy Creswell, who co-led the study, says raising awareness of the mental health of primary school children during lockdown is a priority

Oxford University’s Professor Cathy Creswell, who co-led the study, says raising awareness of the mental health of primary school children during lockdown is a priority 

Tom Madders, a campaign director at mental health charity YoungMinds, said: ‘This research suggests that many younger children have found it increasingly hard to cope as the lockdown period has gone on, which may be because of loneliness, fears about the coronavirus or a loss of the routines and support that come with school.

‘The picture appears to be more variable for older children in this study.

‘Following the anxiety and uncertainty of going into lockdown, some are likely to have found the restrictions more difficult as time as gone on, while others – including those who feel safe and secure at home but who find school challenging – may have adapted well to their new reality.’  

These problems appears to be mainly affecting young children, as secondary school pupils are showing fewer signs of emotional difficulties, according to the same report.

Tom Madders, campaign director of mental health charity YoungMinds, admits that loneliness, fears about the coronavirus and a loss of schools routines have contributed to this unhappniess

Tom Madders, campaign director of mental health charity YoungMinds, admits that loneliness, fears about the coronavirus and a loss of schools routines have contributed to this unhappniess

Tom Madders, campaign director of mental health charity YoungMinds, admits that loneliness, fears about the coronavirus and a loss of schools routines have contributed to this unhappniess

However, an increase in attention behaviours and restlessness has been seen amongst teenagers in lockdown.

Mr Madders believes that special attention must be made to the awareness of mental health concerns amongst primary school children, especially when they return to school environments. 

He added: ‘For those young people, going back to school after a long break may well be tough, and it’s vital that there’s a re-adjustment period where wellbeing is prioritised.

‘It’s also important to recognise that some of the most vulnerable young people in our society – including those who have experienced abuse, violence or neglect – are often the hardest to identify.

‘We need to ensure that effective support is available for all children who need it now and as restrictions lift.’

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