02 June 2021

A Future Unlived: How Covid-19 Is Impacting Youth Mental Health

On June 2, 2021, experts and youth representatives discussed the impacts of COVID-19 on children and adolescents’ mental health in the informal atmosphere of a shared dinner.

About the topic

Covid-19 has severely disrupted the lives of children and adolescents across the world, leading to an increase in mental health disorders, particularly anxiety, stress and depressive disorders. School closures and online learning in particular have contributed to feelings of isolation, to a loss of the stability that is typically provided by structured school environments, and to stress over examinations. Furthermore, the rise in social media exposure and screen time has caused an increase in anxiety and depressive disorders as well as disrupted sleep patterns. Studies have shown that the pandemic has been particularly hard on young women, younger youth and youth in lower-income countries. Unless urgent action is taken, young people are likely to suffer severe and long-lasting impacts from the pandemic.

Which actions have been taken until now by governments, health workers as well as international, local and youth organisations to respond to Covid-related mental health needs of young people around the world? What remains to be done, and where do potential obstacles lay? How to fight the pandemic without undermining the health and life prospects of the young generation?

It was to discuss these essential questions, find solutions and exchange viewpoints that the Think Tank Hub Geneva invited to its (virtual) table policy, research, health, and youth representatives.

“Debatable is a unique platform to foster dialogue between young people and experts, bringing different perspectives into light. An excellent way to challenge one’s views and enrich it through discussion”

– Cécile Rivière, participant, foraus’ board member and senior governmental affairs manager at Interpharma


Dr. Fiona Samuels

Senior Research Fellow in Gender Equality and Social Inclusion at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI)

Dr. Pierre-André Michaud

Honorary professor at the University of Lausanne and previous head of the Adolescent Health Unit at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaud

Dr. Annina Zysset

Project Manager “Mental health in children and youth public health” at the ZHAW School of Health Professions

Cécile Rivière

foraus’ board member and senior governmental affairs manager at Interpharma

Dr. Chiara Servili

Child Neurologist and Child Psychiatrist, Medical Officer at WHO Mental Health and Substance Use Department

Thibault Besuchet

Musician, youth representative

Noé Pollheimer

Informatician & member of the youth parliament of Basel, youth representative