More than a million prescriptions for antidepressants are written for teenagers in England each year, official figures suggest.
The number of drugs doled out to 13 to 19-year-olds rose by a quarter between 2016 and 2020, latest NHS data shows.
It includes prescriptions up to the end of 2020, following a year of national Covid lockdowns and school and university closures.
An increasing amount of evidence is beginning to accrue showing that virus restrictions took a heavy toll on young people’s mental health.
The NHS data — obtained through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request — also show antidepressants use rose sharply among adults in their 20s.
Mental health and children’s charities told MailOnline the data was an ‘alarming sign’ of a mental health crisis in Britain.
They warned some young people may have been given drugs by GPs because they can’t get counselling due to pandemic backlogs.
The NHS data records prescriptions rather than individual patients, meaning someone could be recorded multiple times.
A total of 1.03million antidepressant prescriptions were made to people aged between 13-and-19-years in 2020, the latest available data.
This was a 26 per cent rise compared to the number of prescriptions in 2016.