Jemma Crew, PA Social Affairs CorrespondentTue, 16 February 2021, 12:01 am
More than half of girls and young women say the coronavirus pandemic has negatively affected their mental health, with older teenagers the most affected, according to a survey.
Some 53% of girls said their mental health had been affected by the pandemic and latest lockdown, rising to three-quarters of girls aged 15-18, Girlguiding research found.
More than half (62%) of this age group is also feeling more worried and anxious than they were during the first lockdown.
Overall, four in 10 girls aged four to 18 are feeling more lonely, sad, anxious and worried, more than half are feeling more bored and seven in 10 are feeling more fed-up and tired.
A third of older girls said being on social media is negatively affecting their sleep or mood.
More than half (59%) said they are feeling under more pressure to be productive during lockdown, either by getting fit or learning something new.
Some 1,881 Girlguiding members across the UK completed the online survey between January 28 and February 3.
The polling found optimism for the future is rising as the vaccination programme rolls out, with 82% of respondents feeling more hopeful.
Girls also said they now have a greater appreciation of nature and being outdoors, the NHS and care workers and of being at school.
A third of girls aged four to seven have been inspired to work in the NHS as a doctor or nurse, and a fifth of girls aged 15-18 have been inspired to pursue a career in science.
Angela Salt, Girlguiding chief executive, said: “It is clear that whilst girls feel more hopeful for the future, many continue to struggle with the effects of lockdown and social distancing on their mental health and wellbeing.
“Young women are keen to have their voices heard, so it is vital that Government listen to their concerns on decisions that will affect them, whilst also providing support for the youth clubs and groups that are playing an invaluable role helping young people at this time.
“We can’t wait to get back to offering girls and young women outdoor adventures as soon as restrictions allow.”
Girlguiding Advocate Henrietta, 16, said: “This lockdown has been more challenging, yet it’s a positive sign that girls feel more appreciative of our wider society, where communities have become a force for good.
“Being stuck at home, not being able to spend time with friends – be it socially or at school (which I now do not take for granted) – has had a profound impact on me personally and makes me value so many aspects of my life.”
The polling also found that girls are worried about their education during the pandemic, with 58% finding home schooling harder and more stressful.
Almost two thirds (64%) of older girls are worried about falling behind in their school work and 66% about how cancelled exams will affect their future opportunities.
More than half (56%) said they are proud of their teachers who have been supporting them.