A mental health pandemic? Assessing the impact of COVID-19 on young people’s mental health

Katrina Lloyd*, Dirk Schubotz, Rosellen Roche, Joel Manzi, Martina McKnight

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Research indicates that young people have been a particularly vulnerable group when it comes to negative mental health outcomes following COVID-19, with some authors warning of a ‘mental health pandemic’.

Materials and Method: Using a survey approach, this study explored the effects of lockdowns on the mental health of 1995 16-year-olds in Northern Ireland. Respondents completed the 12-item version of the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) along with closed- and open-ended questions about COVID-19.

Results: Results from regression analysis showed that being female, identifying as non-heterosexual and perceiving that mental health had worsened during lockdown were the best predictors of poor mental health. In the open responses, young people reported significant concerns about their mental health and their educational outcomes. They also felt that their needs were not given the same priority as those of adults during lockdown.

Conclusions: The results suggest that the COVID-19 lockdowns adversely affected the mental health of many young people in Northern Ireland with the effects most acute for females and those identifying as non-heterosexual. Future research should explore the longer-term impact of the pandemic on the mental health of these vulnerable young people and identify what support mechanisms need to be put in place to mitigate the negative effects of any future crises.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6550
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 09 Aug 2023


  • Covid-19
  • mental health
  • young people
  • Northern Ireland
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)


Dive into the research topics of 'A mental health pandemic? Assessing the impact of COVID-19 on young people’s mental health'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this