Social anxiety has increased among students since the pandemic, a survey by the National Learning Network has concluded.
The condition is defined as an “overwhelming fear of social situations” and the research interviewed a number of students who said they struggled to leave their rooms during COVID.
“It’s the fear of being judged and evaluated by others,” psychologist Jane Watson said.
“The consequence of that is that the person wants to feel safe, so then they tend to withdraw and then you’ll often find that the person’s mood will go down.
“There might be an increase in addiction behaviours [and] general poor wellbeing.”
National Learning Network Director Lucianne Bird said lockdowns had a hugely negative impact on young people’s social lives.
“While for some, it offered a comfort level insofar as they were able to stay within the parameters of the home, for many, it had negative socio-emotional effects, including heightened anxiety, damage to their social networks and contacts and a disruption to daily routines,” she said.
“We have witnessed a significant increase in students presenting with social anxiety and related mental health difficulties in recent years.
“Anxiety is huge among the younger students coming to us.”
The HSE recommends a number of ways to treat social anxiety - including a 14-week course run by socialanxietyireland.com
Main image: A woman thinking sitting on a couch at home in May 2019. Picture by: Antonio Guillem Fernández / Alamy Stock Photo