Best Practice

Rebuilding hope post-Covid: The signs of depression and despair

What our young people need right now is hope. In this four-part series, psychologist Dr Stephanie Thornton looks at building back hope as we emerge from the pandemic. Part one considers the signs of despair we may see in some students – and how we can respond

There was already something of a crisis in adolescent and child mental health in the UK, even before Covid-19 came on the scene.

Services were underfunded and overstretched. But the pandemic has made the situation worse, exacerbating existing mental health problems in some young people, triggering new ones – and help with such problems has been even harder to come by in the past year, through the inaccessibility of therapy during lockdowns, and the sheer volume of demand.


REBUILDING HOPE POST-COVID: To read other articles in this series, visit



A particular problem is the rise in depression. A recent Office for National Statistics survey found that the number of people describing themselves as depressed has more than doubled through the pandemic to more than 20 per cent (ONS, 2021).

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