‘Depression rising among Welsh secondary starters’

Survey of 120,000 secondary students suggests that anxiety about moving up to secondary school was heightened by Covid
4th August 2022, 12:01am

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‘Depression rising among Welsh secondary starters’

https://www.tes.com/magazine/news/general/depression-rising-among-welsh-secondary-starters
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Students who started secondary school in Wales in 2021 were more likely to report elevated symptoms of depression than those who began before the pandemic, a study has found.

Academics at Cardiff University analysed responses from a student health and wellbeing survey, which found that 21 per cent of students who started Year 7 in 2021 reported increased depression, up from 15 per cent in 2019.

The survey involved 120,000 11- to 16-year-olds from 202 schools in Wales, and was carried out around 18 months after the Covid-19 pandemic began.

 

Dr Nicholas Page, who led the analysis, said: “Transitioning to secondary school is a period of potentially heightened stress and anxiety, and this finding could suggest that such feelings were further elevated for young people in Wales who started secondary school in 2021, following the disruption of the pandemic.”

The analysis also showed an overall increase in the percentage of children reporting elevated symptoms of depression in 2021, up to 28 per cent from 24 per cent in 2019.

No change was found among boys, suggesting this rise was driven by increased rates among girls - from 33 to 39 per cent - and a small number of gender non-binary students, from 61 to 78 per cent.

Year 11 students had the highest prevalence of mental health difficulties, with 36 per cent reporting elevated symptoms of depression in 2021, up from 33 per cent in 2019.

Professor Simon Murphy, director of the Centre for Development, Evaluation, Complexity and Implementation in Public Health Improvement, said: “These results, gathered before and 18 months since the beginning of the pandemic, provide important insights regarding changes in young people’s mental health and wellbeing during this time.

“While it is not possible to say whether declines in young people’s mental health are due to the pandemic or a general trend, it will be important to continue to monitor these indicators to aid Covid-19 recovery efforts in Wales.”

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