The study, which spoke to more than 123,000 learners, found that nearly a quarter of all secondary school pupils in Wales reported “very high levels” of mental health symptoms after the COVID pandemic.
Schoolgirls in Wales are almost twice as likely as boys to report “very high levels” of poor mental health symptoms in the wake of the COVID pandemic, according to a new report.
The findings, based on research conducted from 2021-2022, showed that 28% of girls at secondary schools in Wales reported very high levels of problems with mental health compared with 16% of boys – the figure for all pupils is 24%.
More than 123,000 students between school years seven and 11 took part in the School Health Research Network’s biennial study – the largest of its kind in the UK.
Headteachers hope the information will allow them to plan activities that will help pupils who express concerns about their mental health.
More than a quarter (27%) of students felt “a lot of pressure” when it came to their school work but two-thirds (66%) said there was a member of school staff they could confide in.
Nearly one in five (16%) secondary school learners in Wales do not reach the recommended 60 minutes of exercise per day, according to the survey.
While 20% of young people also reported having tried an e-cigarette.
Professor Simon Murphy of Cardiff University, chief investigator of the network, said it was “of little surprise that so many young people were experiencing mental health challenges and schoolwork pressures” in the months after the COVID lockdown.
“But what is also clear and encouraging from the findings is that most young people felt they had someone they could turn to for support, either in school or through their families and friendship groups,” he added.
“These findings provide an understanding of the public health challenges facing young people but also point to areas that can be developed to address them.”News