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FE exam results triggered flashpoint in 2020 pandemic mental health crisis, Creation.co study shows

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A new study reveals the 2020 FE and Secondary exam results season combined with the start of the new academic year triggered a flashpoint of concern among doctors and other healthcare professionals (HCPs) regarding mental health among young people and the prescription of antidepressants during the pandemic.

It shows how exam results, the start of the new academic year, comined with successive lockdowns triggered spikes of activity among doctors and other experts in the treatment of rising rates of depression.

The findings are produced by specialist digital healthcare insights and consulting firm, CREATION.co, and are based on an analysis of almost 6,000 online posts by 2,000 UK healthcare professionals discussing the use of antidepressants in the treatment of clinical depression from January to December last year.

Key events shaping HCPs antidepressant conversations in relation to clinical depression 1536x968

The chart highlights the impact of exam results, including GCSEs, A-Levels and other FE exams, along with the start of the new academic year and how these drove rates of depression and an increase in the use of antidepressants among young people.

More broadly, it also shows the impact of COVID-19 and how this triggered conversations among healthcare professionals regarding the impact of successive lockdowns, the economic recession, social distancing, and other restrictions on rates of depression and an increase in the use of antidepressants.

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Commenting on the findings, Daniel Ghinn, CEO and Founder of CREATION.co said:

“While the impact of successive lockdowns and self-isolation on rates of depression and the prescription of antidepressants is well documented, the findings of this study offer greater granularity to our understanding of what drove this.

“Less well documented is the detrimental impact upon young people of uncertainty surrounding exam results – a knock on effect of their diminished capacity to learn and study due to lockdown.

“The study offers some insight into the valuable role social media can play in helping us to understand the needs and behaviours of groups. Online analysis of the views and sentiments of healthcare professionals offers huge potential for collecting real-world evidence for an array of different areas of public health. They can range from what’s driving greater demand (as in this case) to other areas, such as lesser-known side effects of drugs and unknown interactions. It represents a fast-growing tool in public health analysis whose significance is likely to grow in the coming decades.”

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