Teenagers’ Experiences of Life in Lockdown (TELL)

TELL is a research project led by The University of Manchester and Liverpool John Moores University.

What is TELL?

Teenagers’ Experiences of Life in Lockdown (TELL) logo

TELL aims to understand 16- to 19-year-olds’ experiences of the UK lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic. The project places particular emphasis on this age group's wellbeing.

16- to 19-year-olds have faced sudden disruption during a key stage in their transition to adulthood. During this stage, they usually become more autonomous and begin planning for their futures.

Lockdown has not only created disruption for this group in their daily lives. It may also have disrupted them in the long term. Exams have been cancelled and the employment market appears less stable.

As such, we set out to learn more about what lockdown has been like for this age group.

We asked teenagers aged 16-19 in the UK to provide a written account of their experiences of lockdown. We asked them to tell us what lockdown looked like for them, what it felt like, and how they managed it.

More than 100 young people shared their experiences with us. We are using the findings to share considerations on ways to support teenagers and their wellbeing during this time.

What have we learned so far?

Below you can watch the TELL film, which outlines our key findings of how teenagers experienced their wellbeing during lockdown.

We want to hear from 16-to-19-year-olds based in the UK about their thoughts on the TELL film and whether it is helpful for thinking about wellbeing during the pandemic.

If you take part, you’ll be able to enter a prize draw for the opportunity to win an iPad.

Find out what else our teenage participants told us about their experiences of lockdown at Teenagers' Experiences of Life in Lockdown (TELL): Main findings.

The above document also contains considerations for teenagers, parents and carers, education staff and settings, and mental health and wellbeing professionals.

We also asked participants what advice they had for others managing lockdown - find out what they recommended, in their own words, at Teenagers’ Experiences of Life in Lockdown (TELL): Caring for your wellbeing.

About the team

The project is led by Dr Ola Demkowicz (Principal Investigator; University of Manchester) and Dr Emma Ashworth (Liverpool John Moores University).

The wider TELL team includes Dr Terry Hanley, Alisha O’Neill, Dr Kirsty Pert, and Carla Mason (of The University of Manchester).

The impact strand of the TELL Study is supported by funding from The University of Manchester’s Economic and Social Research Council Impact Acceleration Account.

Thanks also go to Dr Alison Jeffers and students on The University of Manchester BA Drama course, Rebecca Dunne, and Dr Tee McCaldin (The University of Manchester), and the team at Into Productions for their contributions to the TELL study.

Get in touch

If you have any questions about the research, you can contact Ola at: ola.demkowicz@manchester.ac.uk.

You can follow the TELL Study on Twitter, to keep up-to-date with all our latest findings: @theTELLstudy.

I am struggling with my mental health

  • Childline - A free, private and confidential service for under 19s where you can talk about anything. Calls do not show up on phone bills. Call 0800 1111, or use their live chat feature (9am to midnight).
  • The Mix - A free and confidential support service for under 25s. Call 0808 808 4994, use their live chat feature (4-11pm), or text THEMIX to 85258.
  • Your GP - Talk to your GP by phoning your GP surgery.

I am in an unsafe environment

  • Childline - A free, private and confidential service for under 19s where you can talk about anything. Calls do not show up on phone bills. Call 0800 1111, or use their live chat feature (9am to midnight).
  • Samaritans - For anyone who’s struggling to cope, who needs someone to listen without judgement or pressure. Call 116 123 or text SHOUT to 85258.

I am experiencing a mental health crisis or am having thoughts about harming myself

Contact the Samaritans if you are struggling to cope or need someone to listen without judgement or pressure. Call 116 123 or text SHOUT to 85258.

Media contributions and coverage

Young people reveal the struggles of lockdown – and how they coped
The Conversation, November 2020 (Ola Demkowicz, Emma Ashworth, Alisha O’Neill, Terry Hanley, and Kirsty Pert)

The kids aren’t alright: How Generation Covid is losing out
The Financial Times, November 2020 (Federica Cocco, with expert comment from Ola Demkowicz)

How are college students coping with the new normal?
Times Education Supplement, November 2020 (Zofia Niemtus, with expert comment from Ola Demkowicz)

Teenagers’ experiences of life in lockdown – and lessons for COVID-19 recovery plans
Policy@Manchester, October 2020 (Ola Demkowicz, Emma Ashworth, and Terry Hanley)

In conversation with Dr Ola Demkowicz: What has changed for teenagers’ mental health and opportunities since the UK COVID-19 outbreak?
Policy@Manchester, October 2020 (Ola Demkowicz, Emma Ashworth, and Terry Hanley)