FRIDAY, July 30 2021 (HealthDay News) — School closures in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic negatively affected the mental health of students, according to a U.S. study published online July 20 in JCPP Advances.

Karen L. Mansfield, Ph.D., from University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, and colleagues surveyed students (June to July 2020) across Southern England during the first COVID-19 school lockdown to investigate factors associated with mental health difficulties. Analysis included 11,765 pupils in years eight to 13 with comparisons made between students learning at home and those with in-school spots.

The researchers found that females, pupils who experienced food poverty, and those who had previously accessed mental health support were at greatest risk of depression, anxiety, and a deterioration in well-being. Increased risk was also seen among students whose parents were going out to work and those preparing for national examinations in the subsequent school year. Poorer mental health was seen in students accessing in-school provision, but this was explained by the background risk and contextual factors associated with the allocation of in-school places to more vulnerable pupils.

“Identifying those pupils at greatest risk for poor outcomes is critical for ensuring that appropriate educational and social support can be given to pupils either at home or in-school during subsequent lockdowns,” the authors write.

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