A leading think tank has claimed that lockdowns have resulted in poorer mental health among young adults in Ireland.
A major report from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) claims that the scale of mental health difficulties among young adults, particularly young women, is of significant concern.
According to RTÉ:
The findings show 55% of women and 40% of men aged 22 were classified as depressed.
These are higher figures when compared with two years previously when 22% of men and 31% of women were depressed.
Research carried out in December 2020 found that poorer mental health during the pandemic reflected the disruption to young adults’ employment, education and day to day activities.
The ESRI report said that the scale of mental health difficulties among young adults, particularly young women, is of significant concern.
“It is too early to say how long-lasting these effects will be but there appears to be a considerable risk of a longer-term scarring effect for some groups of young adults,” it says.
Just before the pandemic hit, most of these 22-year-olds (63%) were in full-time education or training and so shifted to remote learning.
The vast majority had the electronic devices they needed for remote learning and live online lectures or classes offered by their institutions.
However, around half did not have access to adequate broadband and a quiet place to study, and less than one third (30%) received regular feedback on their work.
Over half (57%) found it difficult to study while learning remotely, and this was linked to a greater risk of depression.
In contrast, those who had more interaction with their institution and the resources they needed to study fared better.
Over half (57%) of those working (either full-time or while studying) when the pandemic hit lost their job and 16% started working remotely or increased the hours that they worked from home…..
Young adults reported very significant changes to their social activities during the pandemic.
Over 80% had less face-to-face contact with their friends than before the pandemic, even though restrictions on such contact had begun to ease at the time of the survey.
Reduced contact with friends was linked to increased depression for young women.
Of those who were engaged in sports and cultural activities prior to the pandemic, the majority reported spending less time on these activities during the pandemic.
This was more common for those who lost their job or found it difficult to study remotely.