Early research highlights the negative impacts of social isolation on young adults during the COVID-19 pandemic. The main results of the study showed that participants reported symptoms of PTSD, anxiety and increased loneliness.
Led by final year student at the School of Social Sciences, Antonieta Fostier, the study gathered responses from 150 participants aged 18 to 35 and asked them to report their experiences of anxiety, loneliness and sleep disturbances during the pandemic.
The consequences of increased fear of infection, suppressed individual freedom and the disruption of social relationships has revealed an urgent need for investigations into the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of young adults.
Highlighting an overlooked demographic
Antonieta became inspired to find out more about how the pandemic was affecting young adults when she noticed a lack of research in this area:
‘Initially, most studies related to the impacts of social isolation imposed by the pandemic were focused on specific groups, such as health professionals, children, the elderly and the general population. However, few studies have been developed aiming to understand the impacts of the pandemic on young adults.’
Participants were recruited through online platforms and reported no history of mental health and sleep disorders.
The results showed that 16.7% of the sample reported high levels of PTSD symptoms, 25.3% high levels of anxiety, 80% moderate and high levels of loneliness and, finally, 20% reported moderate and high levels of sleep disorders.
Furthermore, the results indicated a more significant impact on the mental health of individuals in the female group, but Antonieta stressed that this is one of the many aspects that require further research.
An urgent need for further investigation
Antonieta’s work reveals the need for further investigation into the consequences of the pandemic on young adults.
Further analysis might be able to indicate whether the psychological impacts of the pandemic could lead to behavioural changes that threaten physical health, such as substance abuse.
Antonieta also highlights the need for interventions to help reduce negative impacts associated with the pandemic, such as delivering infection prevention policies that provide a sense of security and increasing social support.