It’s no surprise the recent pandemic has taken a toll on the nation’s mental health. With job insecurity, financial uncertainty and general added stress the worsening mental well being of the nation is almost inevitable. But how have students coped over the lockdown?

    Tiffin School have issued a survey to gather an understanding of how the Year 12s are dealing with recent events. The form allowed for answers as polls and in a written form, and was completely anonymous so students could answer honestly. With 109 respondents, the survey gives a comprehensive view of the mental well-being of the year 12s.

    The first question, ‘how do you view mental health’ gave some very powerful responses. Students, who remain anonymous, replied ‘Something I find difficult to deal with for myself’ and ‘Pretty bad but I don’t speak about it’. These replies highlighted two significant issues around the stigma of mental health, where serious issues are swept aside due to the fact the topic is so taboo. Of course, these are likely to worsen, and require attention to help, which shows how dangerous this stigma is.

    Students were then asked to rate their mental health from 1 to 5, 1 being very poor and 5 being excellent. The mean value produced was 3.37, indicating the well being of the students is around average. The following question, ‘Over the past year, how often have you felt low, sad or depressed?’ produced a modal value of 4, suggesting this occurs ‘often’. This can be inferred to be a product of the lockdown, where students feel isolated from their friends and family coupled with the added school stress of the cohorts cancellation of GCSEs and the jump to A-Levels. The combination of the two are likely to have triggered a feeling of sadness particularly applicable to the current year 12s nationally, as shown by the data produced from this question.

    The question, ‘Overall, how would you rate your stress levels at school?’ produced a modal value of 3, which is average. However, the previous year group took the same survey in January, and produced a modal value of 4, which is high, suggesting that this stress increases as the year progresses. 

   A positive result did come through from the question ‘Do you feel the school sufficiently supports mental health issues at school?, where 85% of students answered yes. Tiffin School has a system of mental health ambassadors, and promotes speaking to teachers if students feel they need help, so are generally well equipped. However, students were then asked ‘Do you feel like you can talk to someone or ask for help with mental health issues at school?’, which did give some answers that may be a cause for concern. One student replied ‘I know I can get help but I don’t feel like bothering anyone’. This highlights one of the reasons people do not share their struggles, as they feel as if they are a burden. Yet this mentality again lets problems accumulate and worsen, which can be even more detrimental to the person's mental health. This comment was replied to directly by a member of staff, emphasising that ‘You absolutely wouldn’t be bothering anyone’. 

    Overall, the survey shows the mental health of the students is around average, but suffering does still occur. Worries about confidentiality, being a burden and the general stigma over mental health are common, yet they tend to perpetuate the problem, allowing it to get worse. It is these barriers that must be removed to allow for better mental health, not only in school but in society as a whole. Lockdown had worsened emotional well-being, but with the prospect of a vaccine, and the end in sight,  the hope is that this will begin to improve.