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‘I’m Gonna Tell You about How Mrs Rona Has Affected Me’. Exploring Young People’s Experiences of the COVID-19 Pandemic in North East England: A Qualitative Diary-Based Study

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Steph Scott, Dr Vic McGowanORCiD, Dr Shelina Visram



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Children and young people risk being ‘disproportionately harmed’ by the COVID-19 pandemic. Whilst an evolving body of literature focuses on the impact of the pandemic on the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people, less attention has been paid to the collection of qualitative, exploratory data. The aim of this study was to examine young people in North East England’s experiences of COVID-19 and associated control measures. Flexible, qualitative diaries were collected with 31 young people aged 13–17 for six weeks between July and October 2020. Diary extracts were curated using Instagram Direct Messaging (DM), email and text messaging. At the end of this study, participants took part in a follow-up interview (conducted by telephone or Zoom), asking them to reflect on their diary entries. Thematic analysis of diaries and interviews yielded three central themes: (1) impacts upon mental health and emotional wellbeing; (2) disruptions and changes to education and school life; and (3) frustration, burden and responsibility. These findings highlight acute mental health impacts (loneliness, isolation, anxiety) as well as longer-term repercussions from disrupted education (missed parts of curriculum, home schooling, cancelled exams, periods of isolation) on young people aged 13–17 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Scott S, McGowan VJ, Visram S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

Year: 2021

Volume: 18

Issue: 7

Print publication date: 06/04/2021

Online publication date: 06/04/2021

Acceptance date: 30/03/2021

Date deposited: 09/04/2021

ISSN (print): 1661-7827

ISSN (electronic): 1660-4601

Publisher: MDPI AG


DOI: 10.3390/ijerph18073837


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Funder referenceFunder name
NU Covid-19 Research Fund