New Research Shows Lockdown Took Heavy Mental Health Toll On Children

Wednesday, December 9th 2020, 12:16 pm
By: CBS News

The coronavirus lockdown has taken a heavy toll on mental health, even in kids. New research out of Britain suggests depression is hitting children as young as 7.

The study from the University of Cambridge shows school lockdowns are having a big effect on children's mental health.

"We found a quite substantial increase in ratings of depressive symptoms during lockdown," said Duncan Astle, a developmental psychologist at the University of Cambridge.

Astle and his team tracked about 200 elementary students before and after lockdown and found a 70% chance symptoms of depression got worse in isolation.

"What the data suggests is that you can't simply pluck a child from one context and isolate them from it without it having knock on consequences," Astle said.

Hannah Smith and her cheer squad were headed to the Idaho state competition as defending champions, but COVID-19 cancelled the big event.

"It was really just frustrating and, like, super hard because that's what we'd worked for all year long," Hannah Smith said.

This normally super sociable 17-year-old found herself isolated and alone.

"I had, like, no motivation for really anything. And not even, like, school work. It was just like, whatever, I didn't care. I didn't get up and do anything,” she said.

“It's scary to watch your child enter into mentally a place that you don't know how to deal with. And not knowing what can happen, suicide is a very real threat,” Hannah’s mother, Heidi Smith, said.

One month into the lockdown, Hannah Smith suffered a devastating loss when her best friend took his own life.

"We all had to like grieve alone," Hannah Smith said.

Now, she's planning to become a paramedic to help save other lives.

“It really kind of also motivated me to keep going to succeed for the both of us and to live my life for the both of us just to the fullest,” Hannah said.

Hannah Smith found help from counseling and cheering.

She said counseling was challenging to find during the lockdown, but, it turns out, her cheer coach is a licensed counselor who was able to help.