MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The coronavirus lockdown has taken a heavy toll on mental health, even in kids. New research out of Britain suggests depression is hitting children as young as seven.
The study from the University of Cambridge shows school lockdowns are having a big effect on children’s mental health. “We found a quite substantial increase in ratings of depressive symptoms during lockdown,” says Duncan Astle, a developmental psychologist at the University of Cambridge.
Astle and his team tracked about 200 elementary students before and after lockdown and found a 70% chance symptoms of depression got worse in isolation. “What the data suggests is that you can’t simply pluck a child from one context and isolate them from it without it having knock-on consequences,” Astle says,
Hannah Smith and her cheer squad were headed to the Idaho state competition as defending champions, but COVID-19 canceled the big event. “It was really just frustrating and, like, super hard because that’s what we’d worked for all year long,” Hannah says.
This normally super sociable 17-year-old found herself isolated and alone. “I had, like, no motivation for really anything. And not even, like, school work. It was just like, whatever, I didn’t care. I didn’t get up and do anything.”
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Hanna’s mother, Heidi, says, “It’s scary to watch your child enter into mentally a place that you don’t know how to deal with. And not knowing what can happen, suicide is a very real threat.”
One month into the lockdown, Hannah suffered a devastating loss when her best friend took his own life. “We all had to like grieve alone,” Hannah said. Now she’s planning to become a paramedic to help save other lives. Hannah says, “It really kind of also motivated me to keep going to succeed for both of us and to live my life for the both of us just to the fullest.”
Hannah found help from counseling and cheering. She says counseling was challenging to find during the lockdown, but it turns out her cheer coach is a licensed counselor who was able to help.