COVID-19 and debt: the impact on children’s mental health

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to cause additional financial pressure on UK households, it sadly comes as no surprise that this is having a direct impact on families’ mental health, and specifically, a rise in anxiety in children.

Lowell’s survey of 1500 children

To understand how the pandemic has impacted young people in particular, we conducted research by surveying 1500 children aged between 6 and 16 years old, to understand the impact increased anxiety is having on them.

With child food poverty, the financial impact of COVID-19, and Brexit all dominating the headlines it’s hardly surprising that our study found that 31% of children in the UK are currently suffering with anxiety, and say that they worry all the time about money, debt, and food.

The impact of money concerns on children’s mental health

When we asked about their worries, 23% of the children we surveyed said they were worried about the amount of money that their parents or guardians have, demonstrating how concerns about finances and debt are affecting children. 15% of children were also anxious about the amount of food their parents or guardians could afford. The financial pressures of COVID-19 are having a significant impact on many families, and unfortunately it seems that children are also feeling the effects of that strain.

The role poverty plays on mental health

Our research also suggests that children from less affluent backgrounds are at risk of suffering long term mental health and anxiety issues. Child food poverty has been a hot issue recently, with the number of foodbanks in the UK on the rise, the Trussell Trust providing a record high of 1.9m food bank parcels between April 2019 and March 2020[1], and UNICEF issuing aid to ease child poverty in the UK for the first time ever[2].  

Unfortunately, our research suggests that the rise in food poverty for children is having an impact on their mental wellbeing.  Of those children who live in households that have used a food bank within the last 12 months, 45% are suffering with anxiety. Of those children, 54% were worried about the amount of food that their parents could afford.

We’re here to support you

If you and your family are going through difficult circumstances, Lowell are here to support you. Find out how we can support Lowell customers during trying times with our guide on finding the right debt support that’s available to you.

We appreciate that debt can have a big impact on mental health, which is why we have lots of resources available to help Lowell customers who are going through a difficult time, and extra help if you’re struggling during the COVID-19 epidemic. If you, or someone in your family, is struggling with financial issues or mental health issues, it can be hard to know how to speak about it. Check out our article Time to Talk for tips on speaking to a loved one about debt.

Teenagers are feeling the strain

The COVID-19 pandemic and the increasing levels of debt are also having an impact, particularly on teenagers. 73% of teenagers stated that the pandemic had caused them to worry more, with their education and lack of social contact being the main causes for concern.

With the UK government recently announcing that national exams are to be cancelled due to the pandemic, our study also revealed the impact this has had on students’ mental health. 60% of teenagers are feeling anxious about their schoolwork due the pandemic, with 55% worrying about their grades from examinations.

What may be more alarming is that 35% of teenagers are worried about their mental health due to the restrictions put in place for COVID-19. As the influence of COVID-19 continues to be felt, it’s hard on both teenagers and parents to manage the effect that lockdown has on mental health, as well as the impact on household financial responsibilities. We’re here to help Lowell customers by making it easier to talk about debt and mental health, and giving families who are having a hard time the space and time they need to get back on their feet.

COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the economy and on household finances. At Lowell, we know that tough circumstances like this can be difficult when you have debt, which is why we’re here to help during these uncertain times. Our priority is understanding your situation and helping you find the right solution. To find out how we’re supporting Lowell customers, check out our Support Centre, or get in touch to find out how we can help.




Written by Sarah-Louise Brown on 03 February 2021


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