People who have hope generally have better developmental outcomes. In this four-part series, psychologist Dr Stephanie Thornton looks at building back hope as we emerge from the pandemic. Part four looks at how we can foster hope, ‘flourishing’ and positivity

It has been reported that 11 per cent of children aged five to 16 had probable mental disorders in 2017, a figure that has risen to nearly 17 per cent during the pandemic (ONS, 2020).

As worrying as these figures are, they very likely underestimate levels of emotional distress in the young: they focus on mental health problems meeting the criteria for diagnosable disorders. This is quite a strict definition, which excludes many levels of real distress. Asking 11 to 16-year-olds about their experience through the pandemic suggests 40 per cent experienced some dysphoria (ONS, 2020).

Something must be done to address the negative emotional consequences of pandemic and lockdowns in the young. Earlier articles in this series have looked at the challenge of identifying the dangerous form of depression that is hopeless despair, at ways of rebuilding hope, and at helping the young to develop balanced perceptions and reactions to risk.

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