(LifeSiteNews) — A newly published study found that an additional 60,000 adolescents in the U.K. experienced high levels of depression after the COVID-19 pandemic.
After controlling for “baseline scores and several school and pupil-level characteristics,” an analysis published last week in the Royal Society Open Science journal found that U.K. adolescents age 11 to 15 experienced significantly greater levels of depressive symptoms and lower levels of life satisfaction after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Researchers found that post-pandemic, their sample had a 27.1 percent prevalence of “high depressive symptoms,” which Summit News reported amounted to an additional 60,000 children experiencing high levels of depression, according to the study’s metrics.
The journal defined high depressive symptoms using a 13-item self-report measure of depressive symptoms during the previous two weeks, with possible total scores ranging from 0 to 26, and higher scores indicating greater depression.
The study noted that even before the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health problems were fairly common, with between 14 percent and 17 percent of adolescents age 11-19 meeting diagnostic criteria for at least one mental health disorder in England in 2017.
According to Summit News, 400,000 British children “were referred to mental health specialists last year for things like eating disorders and self-harm.”
“Meteoric” increases in children’s mental health issues have been reported in the U.S. as well during the COVID-19 pandemic. This sharp increase was indicated, for example, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s finding that emergency department visits for suspected suicide attempts during February-March 2021 were more than 50% higher for teen girls compared with 2019, and more than 4% higher for boys.
The substantially greater numbers of girls seeking help in the U.S. appears to accord with the finding by the U.K. study that “the impact of the pandemic may have been greater in females,” since girls showed “greater depressive symptoms,” behavioral difficulties and “lower well being” post-pandemic.
Hospitals also saw significant spikes in visits from children and adolescents seeking help for mental health issues, with a 31% increase in 12- to 17-year-olds and a 24% increase for ages 5 to 11 seeking help from April to October 2020.
These reports of spikes in mental health problems in children during the COVID pandemic have been corroborated by a variety of different measures, including overdose rates. According to The Washington Post, the number of children admitted to one medical school’s teaching hospital for overdoses of acetaminophen, opiates, antidepressants and Ritalin quadrupled over the course of about a year.