The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have been challenging for many of us. When the virus swept through the world, several countries imposed strict lockdowns to limit the spread of the virus.
These had several negative effects. From isolation, mental health distress, to economic instability and health fears, many people have had a difficult time navigating the laws put in place to curb the spread of the disease. Interestingly, however, a particular group of young people have said they felt happier during lockdown.
Researchers at the universities of Cambridge and Oxford surveyed 17,000 students between the ages of eight to eighteen. In 2020, the students were asked to reflect on “their experiences of the pandemic, school, home life, and relationships, among others”.
The results were surprising. While other research findings have highlighted the negative impacts of lockdowns on the minds and overall wellbeing of young people, a third of those surveyed by this study reported being happier than before the lockdown.
“Compared with their peers, a greater percentage of students reporting better wellbeing also reported decreases in bullying, improved relationships with friends and family, less loneliness, better management of schoolwork, more sleep, and more exercise during lockdown compared with before,” researchers found.
As the saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining. According to a Sanlam study of over 5000 adult South Africans, people had some positive takeaways from the first hard lockdown.
“More than nine out of 10 (93%) respondents said they’d learnt valuable lessons this year that they did not want to forget. These included not taking anything for granted (78%), the importance of saving for a rainy day (67%), and the recognition that we are stronger and more resilient than we tend to think (59%),” the 2020 survey found.
Researchers say the findings of the Cambridge/ Oxford study could help experts figure out ways to ensure young people have better mental health.
“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, ” says Professor Mina Fazel from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford.