Loneliness and self-harm in adolescents during the first national COVID-19 lockdown: results from a survey of 10,000 secondary school pupils in England.
Geulayov G., Mansfield K., Jindra C., Hawton K., Fazel M.
Adolescents' loneliness and self-harm have received considerable attention during the COVID-19 pandemic with concerns that the socioecological changes taking place would contribute to an escalation of both loneliness and self-harm. However, empirical evidence is scant. We estimated the prevalence of loneliness and self-harm in adolescent school pupils and investigated the association of loneliness and change in loneliness during the UK's first lockdown with self-harm during lockdown in a cross-sectional school survey (OxWell) involving 10,460 12-18-year-olds from south England. Loneliness was measured with four items. Self-harm was ascertained through a detailed questionnaire. The prevalence of loneliness and self-harm were estimated applying post-stratification weights to account for differences between the study sample and the target population. The associations between indicators of loneliness and self-harm were examined using mixed effect models. 1,896 of 10,460 adolescents (18.1%) reported feeling lonely 'often' (weighted proportion 16.8%). 3,802/10,460 (36.4%; weighted proportion 35%) felt more lonely since lockdown. Self-harm during lockdown was reported by 787/10,460 adolescents (7.5%; weighted proportion 6.7%). Controlling for confounders, adolescents who reported feeling lonely 'often' [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 2.8, 95% CI 2.1-3.9, p