Feelings of depression

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Published May 29, 2020

This article is part of our “Determinants and the pandemic” series, which examines certain determinants of school perseverance in light of the current crisis and its attendant measures.

Determinant | Impacts of the health crisis | Concerns | Solutions 


Some studies show that about 16% of Québec high school students present a significant number of symptoms of depression.[1]

  • Girls: 25%
  • Boys: 10%

Certain studies give significant weight to feelings of depression during schooling, since it would appear to be a similar predictor of dropping out as grades in French and mathematics.[2]

The link between dropping out and mental health is also highlighted by a recent U.S. study, which showed that half of dropouts have a mental health problem.[3]

Work by Québec researchers Véronique Dupéré and Éric Dion also shows that 40% of dropouts experienced a stressful event in the three months prior to their dropping out.[4]

[Learn more about feelings of depression]


We do not have specific data on this topic, but a number of studies conducted among workers or the general population appear to indicate that confinement situations have significant negative impacts in general.

A Canadian study currently underway shows a high rate of anxiety among workers during the current lockdown situation.[4]

A London meta-analysis has also identified a number of negative effects of confinement, such as symptoms of post-traumatic stress, confusion, and anger. It also identified certain characteristics of confinement that can be major sources of stress, such as:

  • Duration of confinement
  • Fear of risk of infection inherent in the confinement
  • Frustration
  • Boredom
  • Shortages of certain everyday consumer products
  • Inadequate or incomplete information
  • Loss of income
  • Stigmatization (when the confinement is not generalized) [5]

Other factors that can have lasting effects on young people include lack of face-to-face contact with classmates, friends, and teachers, and a lack of personal space at home.[6]

Interestingly, certain studies identified in the above-mentioned meta-analysis point to significant psychological impacts among quarantined children compared to non-quarantined children.

“…mean post-traumatic stress scores were four times higher in children who had been quarantined than in those who were not quarantined. 28% (27 of 98) of parents quarantined in this study reported sufficient symptoms to warrant a diagnosis of a trauma-related mental health disorder, compared with 6% (17 of 299) of parents who were not quarantined.” [7] [Emphasis ours.]

why is the situation a cause for concern?

Given both these findings and the current situation, this determinant should be monitored for the following reasons:

  • The lockdown could increase the number of young people experiencing depression and accentuate symptoms among those who do, which could compromise several facets of their lives, including their schooling.
  • Some studies indicate that the effects could last up to three years post-crisis.[7] If so, it will be important to consider the potential long-term needs of these young people.
  • Since a link between depression and dropping out has already been demonstrated, the crisis could have an effect on the number of young people who drop out of school.
  • Girls may be more at risk than boys. Given that 25% of girls in Québec high schools present symptoms of depression, it is reasonable to imagine that their situation may deteriorate. A gendered analysis of the situation could therefore be appropriate.
  • We know that young people with depression tend to be more discrete, so they may be harder to identify and support.
  • It is therefore important to pay attention to those who had symptoms at the start of the lockdown and to consider that many others may also have symptoms when they return.
Solutions for mitigating the pandemic’s effects on mental health


Stay informed about new content added to our Determinants and the Pandemic series. -> Sign up for our newsletter.


[1] Angold & Rutter, 1992; Marcotte, Charlebois, & Bélanger, 2005 cited by Marie-Ève Gagné, Diane Marcotte, and Laurin Fortin, “L’Impact de la dépression et de l’expérience scolaire sur le décrochage scolaire des adolescents,” Canadian Journal of Education, 34/2, 2011, http://journals.sfu.ca/cje/index.php/cje-rce/article/view/907

[2] Fortin L., Marcotte D., Potvin P., Royer E. (1996–2007), Étude longitudinale sur la persévérance et le décrochage scolaire, cited in Réunir Réussir, Fact Sheet, https://www.reseaureussitemontreal.ca/en/take-action/get-equipped/determinants/determinants-school-perseverance/

[3] Vander Stoep, Weiss, Saldanha Kuo, Cheney, & Cohen, 2003, cited in Réunir Réussir, Fact Sheet, https://www.reseaureussitemontreal.ca/en/take-action/get-equipped/determinants/determinants-school-perseverance/

[4] Dupéré et al., “High School Dropout in Proximal Context: The Triggering Role of Stressful Life Events,” Child Dev. 2018 Mar;89(2):e107-e122. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12792. Epub 2017 Mar 28.

[5] The Lancet, March 14, 2020 DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30460-8 “The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: rapid review of the evidence” cited by https://blog.santelog.com/2020/03/24/covid-19-les-effets-indesirables-du-confinement/

[6] https://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140-6736(20)30547-X.pdf

[7] The Lancet, March 14, 2020 DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30460-8 “The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: rapid review of the evidence” cited by https://blog.santelog.com/2020/03/24/covid-19-les-effets-indesirables-du-confinement/