COVID-19 pandemic in London: Impacts of prolonged social distancing, isolation, and school closures on adolescent mental health and wellbeing

REACH (Resilience, Ethnicity and AdolesCent mental Health) is an ongoing study of adolescent mental health in inner-city London schools that has been gathering data from over 4000 young people from diverse backgrounds for the last 4 years. REACH recently started another wave of data collection to capture the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of young people.

The REACH Diary Study aims to generate in-depth information about the day-to day experiences and circumstances of disadvantaged and vulnerable young people during the crises, including the lockdown, school closures and the transition back to school. Digital diaries offer a participatory approach that allows participants to direct how they construct and communicate their personal experience. Rather than relying on retrospection, diary methods can provide data on thoughts and feelings as they occur. The use of audio diaries and smartphones in qualitative research is a recent innovation that promises to facilitate engagement and communication with this group of young people.

Data will be analysed within a critical realistic framework that recognises the insight that diaries provide into the children’s lived experience and that these accounts are shaped by intrapersonal and contextual factors.