Parents Believe Social Distancing Is Harming Kids’ Mental Health

Many parents have expressed concern about the growing impacts of COVID-19 on children. They said that the lockdowns and forced isolation to manage the disease have been negatively affecting the mental and emotional health of kids. 

A new Gallup survey shows nearly 3 in 10 parents in the U.S. said their child experiences mental or emotional problems due to social distancing and closures related to the coronavirus pandemic. The company interviewed more than 1,200 parents from May 11 to 24, the Hill reported Tuesday.

Many respondents found it difficult to consistently follow some restrictions or safety measures despite the threats of COVID-19. Fourteen percent of the parents admitted they could only follow social distancing for “a few more weeks” because of its emotional or mental impact on children.

Another 33 percent of parents said they will follow social distancing guidelines for “as long as is necessary” before their child experiences emotional or mental health problems. And 23 percent said they could follow for “a few more months.”

Parents with less than a college degree appeared more likely to consider that their child’s emotional or mental health is already suffering compared to respondents with a college degree or higher.

A group of psychologists recently raised the same concern in the United Kingdom. They said that temporary closures of schools because of COVID-19 could negatively affect the mental health of children as well as adolescents, the BBC reported.  

The group issued an open letter to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson calling for increased focus on the health of vulnerable young people. They said lockdowns have already affected children and that further delays in reopening of schools could bring more problems.

The letter, signed by more than 100 specialists in psychology, mental health and neuroscience, highlights that children have a lower risk of catching COVID-19. That is why local governments should consider reducing social distancing measures and allowing the younger population to return to a normal life.

“As experts working across disciplines, we are united as we urge you to reconsider your decision and to release children and young people from lockdown,” the group wrote in the letter, published in the Sunday Times. 

A recent opinion piece in the Lancet Child & Adolescent Health showed that reduced or lack of face-to-face contact among young people and their peers have long-term consequences. In the Gallup survey, 97 percent of parents said their child’s school is closed. 

Ellen Townsend, a professor of psychology at the University of Nottingham, said mental health problems like anxiety were already increasing in young people before the U.K. enforced lockdowns due to COVID-19. She added that the feelings of loneliness and social isolation during the pandemic could make the situation worse. 

Children and COVID-19 A new Gallup survey shows nearly three in 10 parents in the U.S. said their child experiences mental or emotional problems due to social distancing and closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic.