Young people in Barnet have raised concerns over the impact of the coronavirus lockdown on their long-term mental health.

A survey revealed more than two fifths of youngsters felt their long-term mental health and wellbeing had been affected by lockdown, with education and exams a key concern.

There was also an increase in children with anxiety using a mental health support service and a 25 per cent rise in demand for an online counselling service aimed at young people.

It comes after many youngsters were unable to attend school and faced uncertainties over exams – and could soon face a jobs market hit by the pandemic.

More than 850 young people in years five, six and secondary school responded to the online survey, which ran from July 8 to July 30.

Nearly two thirds (65 per cent) said they were worried about coronavirus, while around two fifths felt their long-term mental health and wellbeing had been affected by lockdown (43 per cent) and felt less secure than before the pandemic (38 per cent).

A third felt their friendships were suffering (35 per cent), although only a small minority felt their family life had been affected (16 per cent).

Just more than half (51 per cent) said they had been doing less physical activity than before the pandemic, with 50 per cent saying the pandemic is harming their long-term education.

The survey found young people’s top worry was education and exams during lockdown (56 per cent), followed by staying safe from the coronavirus (34 per cent) and mental health and wellbeing (34 per cent).

Around half of young people wanted more support for dealing with stress and self-isolation, closer and more regular contact with teachers and schools, and more activities for children and young people while they are at home.

The survey was included in a report to the children, education and safeguarding committee on Tuesday (September 22). It will be used by the council to inform a revised “life chances strategy” aimed at supporting young people.

A separate report found young people are at “significant risk of economic hardship”, with 18 to 24-year-olds claiming benefits up from 2.5 per cent in July 2019 to 9.5 per cent in July 2020 and seventeen-year-olds more likely to be furloughed.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Cllr Anne Clarke (Labour, Childs Hill) called for a report on the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of children and details of how the council is supporting them.

Committee chairman Cllr David Longstaff (Conservative, High Barnet) said mental health is a “massive issue” and support teams are helping children to return to school. He added that the points raised by Cllr Clarke would be covered by the council’s existing reports.

Extra measures have been put in place by the borough’s counselling service to support young people, including a help line and workshops.