Professor Cecilia A. Essau
University of Roehampton, London, UK
Psychological impacts of COVID – 19 on young people and how to adapt to the new normal
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, up to 32% of young people in the general population are estimated to suffer from mental health problems, with anxiety and depression being the most common. While the full impact of the preventative measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 such as school/university closure and social distancing is unclear, the World Health Organisation has warned that these measures may result in people becoming more anxious, angry, stressed, and withdrawn. Indeed, studies are beginning to highlight the negative consequences of these preventative measures on people’s mental health.
In response to the growing awareness of the problems associated with anxiety and depression, a number of programs have been developed to prevent/treat young people with these disorders. One such effort is the development of the “Super Skills for Life” (SSL), which is a trans-diagnostic treatment protocol that is based on the principles of cognitive behaviour therapy, behavioural activation, and social skills training. SSL is developed in an effort to increase access to evidence-based prevention/early intervention for young people with anxiety and/or depression. Since the pandemic several SSL workshops have been conducted via zoom to train school counsellors, teachers and youth workers to deliver SSL on-line to young people who need psychological support during this difficult time. Utilising a ‘train-the-trainer approach’, the SSL training has built the capacity and shaped the practice of 24,800 practitioners in 17 countries. Studies have shown that young people who have participated in SSL have learnt skills needed to adapt to the new normal.