The mental impact of the pandemic has been a big topic since the lockdowns began nearly two years ago, but a new study is showing some surprising results: One in three young people say they were actually happier during lockdown than before the pandemic began.
Researchers from the University of Cambridge conducted the study to determine how lockdown had effected teens and adolescents. They found that many felt less lonely, were able to avoid bullying, got more sleep and exercise, and improved their overall mental health while staying at home due to COVID-19 health mandates.
“The common narrative that the pandemic has had overwhelmingly negative effects on the lives of children and young people might not tell the full story,” wrote PhD student and study author Emma Soneson. “In fact, it seems as though a sizeable number of children and young people may have experienced what they felt was improved wellbeing during the first national lockdown of 2020.”
Additionally, with many parents working from home more, there was more opportunity to increase family relationships and spend more time with loved ones. Specifically, a majority of young people who had been bullied over the past year reported fewer incidents during lockdown, likely because they were able to stay safe at home and away from bullies.
The study also found that having more autonomy over their schedule led students to better management over their schoolwork and allowed them to have a more balanced schedule for sleep and exercise. Nearly half (49%) of those with improved mental well-being reported sleeping more, compared with 30 and 19 percent who experienced no change or a negative impact, respectively.
“While the pandemic has undoubtedly had negative consequences for many, it is important to keep in mind that this is not the case for all children and young people,” said Professor Mina Fazel. “We are interested in how we can learn from this group and determine if some of the changes can be sustained in order to promote better mental health and wellbeing moving forward.”