Promoting good mental health

By Hogrefe Ltd's Principal Psychologist, Liz Hey (MSc, MBPsS)

During the last 12 months, globally, we have experienced levels of worry, stress, uncertainty, fear, disruption and challenge which has been more than enough to test the average human. Some people have faced greater significant challenges through illness, bereavement, job loss and financial pressures. While the world is reeling from what has happened, and many countries still facing enormous challenges to beat the Covid-19 virus, psychologists are looking closely at the effects of the year’s events on our mental health.

Here in the UK, the Office for National Statistics reports that an estimated one in five adults say they experienced some form of depression during the coronavirus pandemic and this means that the rate has doubled since before the pandemic.[1] And yet there was a 30% decrease in all diagnoses of depression by GPs in England during late March to the end of August 2020, which suggests that people are not seeking the help they need to cope with their mental health problem. The view from the ONS is that this pattern has likely to have continued into 2021, affected by a winter lockdown with its seasonal bad weather and shorter daylight hours.[2]

The highest rates of depression reported have been by young adults, particularly females, with over four in ten (43%) experiencing some form of depression in the first part of 2021.

The analysis shows a worrying trend towards poorer mental health, which is particularly affecting younger adults. It is, therefore, more important than ever for everyone to look after themselves, and each other. Good mental health is going to be critical for recovery and resuming our lives.

There is an abundance of advice and help available for self-supporting good mental health and health services are keen to encourage people to seek professional help where it is needed. Charities such as MIND, The Mental Health Foundation, Rethink and Mental Health UK, also provide resources and help.

During lockdown, The British Journal of Psychiatry produced an article recommending ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’, a simple set of practical actions which can be done regularly to help to build mental good health[3]:

  • Learn – acquiring new knowledge and developing new skills
  • Connect – having meaningful interaction with others
  • Take notice – practicing mindfulness and being present
  • Give – being collaborative and contributing towards a greater goal
  • Be active – ensuring that daily physical exercise is part of a routine

Now is not the time to be complacent about mental health and to ignore signs that the body and or brain might be sending which indicate something is wrong. It is important to be aware and be mindful of the ways in which we can look after ourselves and each other at home, in the workplace and in the community. Simple and achievable goals in maintaining good mental health may be the best way to do this, as we venture back into the ‘new normal’.

Wellbeing programmes at work should focus on the potential effects of stress, resilience and possible burnout, following the events of the pandemic, in particular for job roles which have been the most affected. In previous pandemics such as SARS, MERS and Ebola, post-traumatic stress symptoms were reported in health care workers and the extent of the psychological impact of Covid-19 on health care workers is not yet known.[4]  For many in higher education and living away from home, or even in a different country, either engaging in distance learning or now returning to their place of study, the year has also presented significant challenges. Research shows that building culture and community, providing support services and good supervision as well as peer engagement and networking will be effective for building wellbeing in young people going forwards.[5]

For everyone returning to work or to education, it will be important to acknowledge the importance of wellbeing and to provide resources to employees and students to support good mental health.



[1] Office for National Statistics (2021). Coronavirus and depression in adults, Great Britain: January to March 2021 https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/wellbeing/articles/coronavirusanddepressioninadultsgreatbritain/januarytomarch2021

[2] Tim Vizard, T. & Theodore Joloza, T. (2021). Are we facing a mental health pandemic? Office for National Statistics

[3] British Journal of Psychiatry (2020). Coronavirus disease 2019: achieving good mental health during social isolation. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

[4] Prasad, A., Zou, M., Mangwiro, R. & Kingsley, C. (2021) Wellbeing During COVID-19. World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists: www.wfsahq.org

[5] Ryan, T. Baik, C. & Larcombe, W. (2021) How can universities better support the mental wellbeing of higher degree research students? A study of students’ suggestions. Higher Education Research & Development, DOI: 10.1080/07294360.2021.1874886

Help and resources

Mental health organisations


Resources to support you and your professional practice during the Covid-19 pandemic

We have collated some information and resources from professional associations, governing bodies and across the Hogrefe Group that we hope will provide some guidance. You can find these here. You may also be interested in browsing our blog for topical articles amidst Covid-19.


Assessments available from Hogrefe for use in the field of mental health

Below are some key titles for use in the field of mental health. You can also browse our complete range of clinical tests here or download our catalogue of clinical and educational assessments here