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major impact Young people suffering from chronic loneliness and social isolation during pandemic, study finds

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Lonely young latina woman sitting on bed. Depressed hispanic girl at home, looking away with sad expression.

Lonely young latina woman sitting on bed. Depressed hispanic girl at home, looking away with sad expression.

Lonely young latina woman sitting on bed. Depressed hispanic girl at home, looking away with sad expression.

The global pandemic has caused chronic loneliness and social isolation in young people.

Adolescents are also reporting high levels of anxiety about their future in terms of the impact of Covid-19 on their education, careers and family life.

A major new global UNESCO study on the toll Covid-19 has had on young people is being spearheaded by NUI Galway, Professor Pat Dolan.

Professor Dolan, Director of the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway is leading the research project with over 100 countries taking part.

It is among the first global studies to have adopted the Youth As Researchers model.

It is the single biggest study on the impact of the pandemic on young people - focusing on wellbeing, education and learning, use of technology, human rights and youth-led action and civic engagement.

Actor Cillian Murphy, patron of the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUIG, is supporting the project and will take part in the online launch on December 4.

Professor Dolan said the study is by young people, about young people and for young people.

In a preliminary survey, Prof Dolan said youths are reporting loneliness, anxiety and worsening mental health.

“What we see so far is that Covid-19 is also having an impact on social isolation on young people, just like older people.

“It is having an impact on their relationships.

“Not everybody is great online and again for young people who have adversity in their lives online relationships are not the greatest solutions.

“Not knowing how long the virus is going to last and worries about the world going into a massive recession and will they have a career are also being reported,” Prof Dolan said.

“Our objective is for young people to work with other young people to find out how the pandemic has affected them personally, in their families and communities and lives.

“We want to explore how they have coped - what they see as the key challenges to their education and social relationships.

“We know some of the problems. We know people are affected differently, across classes and cultures. We need young people to help us understand that and help us with the solutions.

“By using the Youth As Researchers initiative, we can do that and produce usable results, rather than research that no one reads, most of all young people.”

Two NUI Galway undergraduates John Gaffey and Ella Anderson are trained as Youth As Researchers, and will work on the European end of the project.

Prof Dolan echoes the words of Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, who said

young people have been unfairly stigmatised during the pandemic.


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