Girls feel strain of lockdown more - study

A study of the impact of the pandemic on adolescents has found girls significantly more likely to suffer from lockdown stress and anxiety than boys.

Research by Liverpool John Moores University also found that non-white children and those on free school meals were more likely to be encountering mental health problems.

Psychologists quizzed around 300 children aged 11-13 about themselves and their experiences of lockdown. The youngsters then completed questions around their overall wellbeing, optimism, and mental health.

Girls’ responses showed they were not only more concerned about their wellbeing and less optimistic but were half as likely again as boys to be inwardly suffering from mental health imbalances like anxiety and depression.


“We looked for two types of mental health impacts; internalising difficulties, such as anxiety and depression, and externalising difficulties, such as behavioural problems,” explained psychology researcher Dr Emma Ashworth.

“Girls appear to be internalising much more than boys, and that means their problems might be more difficult to spot.

“We’re not sure why girls are less optimistic but it may be because society tends to encourage girls to reflect more on their feelings.”

Black and minority ethnic children were slightly less optimistic, experiencing lower levels of wellbeing and significantly more likely to be externalising mental health problems than their white counterparts.

Losses and gains?

Those from households receiving free school meals were almost half as likely again to be externalising mental health problems through altered behaviours.

The interviews revealed both positive and negative aspects of lockdown, which the researchers categorised as change, embracing lockdown, feelings of loss, and stress/worry.

Lifestyle changes included changes to their daily routine, including their sleeping and eating habits, changes to their relationships (both getting closer to their family and drifting from their friends) and changes to their physical activity.

The youngsters described experiencing a range of emotions in response to COVID-19, including anger, frustration, nervousness, sadness, boredom and confusion.

The LJMU evidence briefing is entitled: Adolescents’ Lockdown-induced Coping Experiences (ALICE).

- LJMU has a whole range of support services around Student Wellbeing and Mental Health during the pandemic. If you are struggling or know someone hwo is, please access our resources or get in touch via @LJMUSaw


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