RETURNING to school has seen a positive impact on children’s mental health, a study has revealed.

The latest report from the Co-Space study shows that for primary school children, mental health difficulties increased during the first lockdown period but have decreased since.

During the first lockdown, there was an increase in behavioural difficulties while children were not attending schools.

Parents and carers reported that their children were more prone to temper tantrums, arguments and not doing what they were asked.

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Children were also more fidgety and restless, and had greater difficulty paying attention.

These issues have generally decreased since July, and as children returned to schools in September.

Children have also been reported to display fewer emotional problems, such as feeling unhappy, worried and being clingy.

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Cathy Creswell, professor of Developmental Clinical Psychology at the University of Oxford, and co-lead of the study, said: “Our findings highlight the challenges that children and families faced during the first lockdown when most children were not able to attend school.

“We are pleased to see that things have generally improved for study families since the pressures of home learning have reduced, but our findings raise concerns about the impact of the ongoing disruption to schooling that many children are dealing with.

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“We don’t yet know the impact of this second lockdown, although children being able to attend school could make all the difference.

“High rates of mental health difficulties among children in low income families also highlight the huge challenge faced as more and more families tackle the economic impacts of the pandemic.”

More than 12,300 parents have now taken part in the study.