Covid is still harming our education and mental health, say teenagers

Posted: 9th November 2023

A third of 17 and 18-year-olds say the legacy of Covid is still harming their education and mental health.

A survey of over 11,000 pupils in their final year of school found that 33 per cent believed the pandemic was still harming their education, while 31 per cent said it had continued to negatively impact their mental wellbeing.

A quarter of Year 13 pupils have sought mental health support in the past year, according to the study by the University College London and the Sutton Trust.

However, of those who sought help, more than a third said they were on a waiting list or had otherwise yet to receive it.

The Covid Social Mobility and Opportunities (Cosmo) study raises the alarm about the recovery of children’s mental health after lockdown.

Pupils were asked 12 questions, including: Have you recently lost much sleep over worry? Have you recently been feeling unhappy or depressed? Have you recently been losing confidence in yourself? Have you recently felt constantly under strain?

High psychological distress

An average score was found, with those scoring 4 and above classified as experiencing “high psychological distress”.

The survey found that overall, 44 per cent of Year 13s could be classified as experiencing high psychological distress between November 2022 and April 2023.

This was the same proportion as the Cosmo study in the previous year, and considerably higher than 35 per cent recorded in 2017 and 23 per cent in 2007 in studies of similar age groups.

Researchers said the findings underscore “the alarming trend that the mental health of the current generation is worse than that of previous generations”.

Pupils who said they identify as non-binary were more likely to be classified as having high psychological distress at 74 per cent. Some 56 per cent of girls and 32 per cent of boys were also in that category.

Society ‘not doing enough’

Jake Anders, associate professor and deputy director of the UCL Centre for Education Policy and Equalising Opportunities, said the findings showed society was “not doing enough” to tackle the crisis in young people’s mental health.

He said: “It is vital that we properly resource mental health services across the country. There is no quick, cheap fix to achieving that.”

A Government spokesman said: “Through the NHS Long Term Plan, we are investing an extra £2.3 billion a year by March 2024 for mental health services, meaning an additional 345,000 children and young people will be able to access NHS-funded mental health support.

“We also know that schools and colleges play a vital role in promoting the well-being of children and young people which is why we are extending coverage of mental health support teams in schools and colleges to at least 50 per cent of pupils in England by the end of March 2025.”

Source: Covid is still harming our education and mental health, say teenagers (

Categories: Health Mental Health News