Has the pandemic set us back 50 years, or will it propel us forward?

Grace French
Written by Grace French

Tags: communications event mental health

At its onset, Covid-19 was described as the great leveller. But the pandemic has exposed and exacerbated inequalities across many facets of life. For many, the situation has never been worse. But we also discovered a renewed intolerance for inequalities, a greater appreciation for those around us, and a desire to cement a better future for all.

This has created a unique moment for change. It’s vital that we examine what’s changed during the pandemic – both the good and the bad – and learn from it, to create a more equal and inclusive society.

Shining a light on mental health, during the pandemic we saw a story of two halves; more people struggling with mental health, and more people speaking up about it. In a year of drastic change and lockdowns the mental health of people of all ages and backgrounds has been greatly impacted. At the same time, mental health is being discussed more than ever and there’s a desire to improve mental health outcomes as we emerge from the pandemic – which itself comes with its own stressors.

The figures speak for themselves. Depression and anxiety levels significantly increased since the pandemic began, but at the same time diagnoses and referrals plummeted in lockdown. This is creating a pressure point – with an anticipated 11% increase in referrals in the next 3 years – a bottleneck of people who urgently need support.

Explaining this trend, Dr Jennifer Opoku-Lageyre, Chartered Counselling Psychologist, Clinical Partners, told us that “We have seen a significant rise in referrals since the pandemic started. One of the main reasons for that is the lack of distraction and socialising. Once upon a time, people used their friends and family as social support. For the last 16 months that social interaction has been withdrawn, so people have been faced with an increased sense of isolation.”

“There has also been such a huge economic impact on some people and that has perhaps led them to feel as though they can’t cope or weren’t thriving as they would have liked to.”

In addition, Dr Jennifer identified further inequalities: “The pandemic has significantly affected those who already experienced mental health difficulties. Also, young people who are incredibly adaptable and flexible, but who have missed out on so many things.”

Alarmingly, Mind found that more than 25% of adults and young people did not access support because they felt they did not deserve it, and a quarter of people who tried to access support were not able receive any.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Dr Jennifer told us that, “throughout the pandemic we saw a coming together of people – a need to take care of each other and actually look out for each other. An example was the level of respect we gave to healthcare workers and the vulnerable. For that to continue to happen we need to be reminded daily of the value of community.”

So, what can we learn and what changes can we make going forward?

Dr Jennifer will be exploring exactly that, in our panel event on Thursday 22nd July, alongside experts in social affairs, education and behaviour change.

We would love for you to attend our event. For further details and to RSVP, please click here.


More information about the event:

Topic: Has the pandemic set us back 50 years, or will it propel us forward?

Date: Thursday 22nd July 2021, 3:30-6pm

Location: Gridiron Building, Meeting rooms 6-8, 1 Pancras Square King’s Cross, London N1C 4AG


Sarah O’Grady, Social Affairs Correspondent, Daily Express


Maccs Pescatore, CEO, Montessori Centre International

Dr Jennifer Opoku-Lageyre, Chartered Counselling Psychologist, Clinical Partners

Laura Oliphant, Founder and MD, Stand

Indicative timings:

Arrival and conversation: 3:30pm

Panel discussion and Q&A: 4-5

Drinks and conversation: 5-6pm

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