Understanding the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak on young adults in Enfield

During lockdown, we engaged with young adults (aged 15-25) in Enfield to understand how the Coronavirus outbreak has been impacting them. This report outlines the main findings from our research and our recommendations concerning next steps.
Graphic image of a microscope

Healthwatch Enfield is an independent, statutory organisation that exists to inform and signpost, listen to local people’s views on health and social care and make sure their voice is heard by those in charge of delivering health and social care services in Enfield.

In light of the current circumstances, we wanted to know

  • which issues are most affecting young adults (aged 15-25)
  • how young adults’ experience of accessing health and social care has been impacted by the Coronavirus outbreak, and
  • what information we can provide to help young adults through this time

This report aims to summarise the findings from the young people we heard from.

Key findings

  • The young adults we surveyed reported that the main impact of the Coronavirus pandemic was on their mental health (1 in 3 young adults we heard from).
  • Having to self-teach and impose self-discipline in a context with little or no routine, as well as a lack of clarity around the changes in schools and exams, have had a strong impact on young adults’ mental health.
  • Other issues raised included:
    • isolation (15%),
    • fear of getting Coronavirus (12%)
    • uncertainty around school and university (10%)
    • lack of motivation and routine (8%)
  • On a positive note, 81% of the young adults we heard from said they were finding the information they needed. However, 3 in 10 young adults said that they found information difficult to access, a lot of it being considered ‘confusing’.
  • 79% of the young adults surveyed also said they were finding the support they need. For the remainder, they wanted more support regarding school (33%) and mental health (33%).
  • Over 1 in 3 young adults surveyed (35%) had existing long-term physical/mental health conditions. Of those, 63% expressed their access to care was being affected.

The main issues raised were the absence of face to face appointments, both for counselling and general health and social care (36%) and a negative impact on their mental health due to the situation (18%). Longer waiting times for appointments were also mentioned (9%) as well as worries regarding collection of medicine once they had run out (9%).

Reccomendations

From our findings, we recommend commissioners across the Local Authority, as well as the Enfield Directorate of the North Central London Clinical Commissioning Group:

  • Conduct more detailed research to understand the needs of young people including virtual support
  • Ensure that information and advice provided for young people  around the Coronavirus pandemic is clear and accessible
  • Work through the backlog of appointments and offer face to face sessions, in addition to virtual ones, where possible
  • Explore community and peer support options, to lessen the dependency upon specialist resources
  • Continue working with schools’ and colleges, promoting their involvement in understanding and supporting young adults’  mental health, particularly for those who have underlying disabilities or mental health conditions, so that a part of the curriculum can be flexibly focused around emotional health and wellbeing, where appropriate.

Given that local service providers are planning how to best provide support as we enter the “recovery period,” post the peak of the Coronavirus outbreak, this report provides timely feedback. There are a number of points to consider in order to support young adults’ health and emotional well-being. This includes issues for consideration by educational establishments preparing for a full September intake, and any anticipated mock examinations this winter/spring.

Download our report 'Understanding the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak on young adults in Enfield'

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