About the 'Mental Health in the pandemic' adolescent study

Building on our ‘Coronavirus: Mental Health in the Pandemic’ study, we led a repeated cross-sectional study of how the COVID-19 pandemic affected adolescents' mental health (people aged 13 to 19) across Great Britain.

Our team

This study focused on the impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on adolescents' mental health. We partnered with Swansea University and the Adolescent Mental Health Data Platform (ADP) to work jointly with some of the most experienced experts in the field. Co-principal investigators for the 'Mental Health in the Pandemic' study were the Foundation’s former Director for England and Wales, Dr Antonis Kousoulis, and Professor Tine Van Bortel of the University of Cambridge and De Montfort University. For the research with adolescents, co-principal investigator was Professor Ann John for Swansea University and the ADP, and for the Foundation the study was led by our former Head of Research, Catherine Seymour.

The Foundation worked closely with five academic partners from across the UK to analyse, interpret and contextualise the data. The universities included are:

  • University of Cambridge, England
  • De Montfort University, England
  • University of Strathclyde, Scotland
  • Swansea University, Wales
  • Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland

Also involved was the organisation Leaders Unlocked, which is passionate about enabling young people and underrepresented groups to have a stronger voice in education, policing, health, well-being and elsewhere.

Our project

The project completed four surveys at roughly three-month intervals to more than 2000 adolescents each time, between the summer of 2020 and the summer of 2021. The surveys were conducted online by YouGov. Participants are different on each sampling occasion but taken from the same pool and representative of people aged 13 to 19 and living in Great Britain.

The adolescent surveys worked similarly to the core, ‘Coronavirus: Mental Health in the Pandemic study’, in that it was not diagnostic and took a public mental health approach. For instance, each time, it covered a range of topics. It looked at adolescents coping strategies, mental health and well-being during the pandemic, loneliness and more specific issues related to this age group (e.g. learning from home).

Peer researchers (who are the same age as the study participants) contributed at each stage, providing invaluable insight. Moreover, the Foundation’s partnership with Leaders Unlocked ensured diverse focus groups and task groups contributed to each wave. These focus groups and task groups contribute qualitative information, personal insights and comments on the questions for the survey and data generated by the study. Members of the groups were between the ages of 14 to 25. Thus, it provided a young person's lens and ensured the content was relevant and accessible. The group members were selected to represent a broad range of adolescent experiences, including that of living or having lived with mental health problems. Moreover, under-represented groups or topics that were not discussed in the surveys were also discussed in the groups, such as people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups, care leavers and LGBTQIA+.

Ethical approval was obtained from Swansea University Research Ethics Committee.

On our Coronavirus: Mental Health in the Pandemic study pages you can find the briefings we have published and the summaries of our findings and evidence.

Read more about the effect of our work and study on 'Coronavirus: Mental Health in the Pandemic’.

Key findings

Explore our findings and statistics about adolescent mental health from the different waves of the pandemic.

Wave 1 Coronavirus Adolescent study findings

The first wave of the study was carried out 24 August to 8 September 2020.

Wave 2 Coronavirus Adolescent study findings

The second wave of the study was carried out 17 November to 1 December 2020.

Wave 3 Coronavirus Adolescent study findings

The third wave of the study was carried out 25 February to 11 March 2021.

Wave 4 Coronavirus Adolescent study findings

The fourth wave of the study was carried out 24 May to 15 June 2021.

Was this content useful?