One-third of people aged between 16 and 34 experienced depressive symptoms in June, compared with one in nine before the pandemic
One-third of people aged between 16 and 34 experienced depressive symptoms in June, compared with one in nine before the pandemic © Bloomberg

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The coronavirus pandemic is severely debilitating the mental health of young Britons as cases of depression are on the rise, official figures show.

About one in five adults in Great Britain experienced either moderate or severe depressive symptoms in June this year, almost double the level recorded before the pandemic, data from the Office for National Statistics revealed on Tuesday.

The increase was more dramatic for people aged between 16 and 34, with one-third experiencing symptoms in June, compared with one in nine before the virus.

“Young people across the UK have had their lives turned upside down by the pandemic,” said Tom Madders, of mental health charity YoungMinds. “Almost every young person has had to adjust to dramatic changes in their education or employment, routine and home life. Many will have struggled to cope with social isolation, anxiety, a loss of structure and fears about their future.”

Depression remained a bigger issue for women during the pandemic, as almost a quarter reported symptoms in June as opposed to 10 per cent of men.

Bar chart showing prevalence of moderate to severe symptoms of depression in Great Britain by age group (%)

“Adults who were young, female, unable to afford an unexpected expense or were disabled were the most likely to experience some form of depression during the pandemic,” said Tim Vizard, who oversees the ONS study. 

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Financial worries have contributed to the strain on mental health. Members of households unable to cope with an unexpected bill were almost three times as likely to have suffered depressive symptoms compared with those in households that could manage.

Relationship troubles appeared to be another factor. More than two-fifths of those suffering symptoms said the pandemic had affected personal relationships, double the amount reporting no symptoms.


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