Thousands of girls as young as 11 in England are hiding signs of ‘deep distress,’ according to the government.

A new report reveals a "widening disparity" in mental health between girls and boys.

In an “alarming” report, it is revealed that thousands of girls as young as 11 years old are concealing signs of “deep distress” from their parents and teachers. The report also reveals an “increasing gulf” between the mental health of boys and girls.

Multiple studies conducted over the last year have revealed that a record number of children are seeking access to NHS mental health services as a result of the pandemic.

Steer Education has conducted an analysis of data from 15,000 secondary students, and the results reveal a concerning new trend: a growing disparity between the mental health of girls and boys, according to the findings. Experts are concerned that this could be a long-term consequence of the Covid crisis.

The results of an online survey of 92 state secondary schools in England conducted before the pandemic and continuing until December 2021 show that girls aged 11 were 30 percent more likely than boys of the same age to suffer from poor mental health. By the age of 18, girls are twice as likely as boys to suffer from mental health problems.

The number of girls who go to great lengths to conceal their feelings of unhappiness has also increased, with 60 percent of girls going to great lengths to conceal their feelings of unhappiness before the pandemic rising to 80 percent now.

Girls are 33 percent more likely than boys to have poor mental health compared to those their own age before the pandemic, while boys are 12 percent more likely than girls to have poor mental health. According to the report, girls’ mental health is at its most vulnerable between the ages of 14 and 18.

Both boys and girls are 40 percent less trusting of others, 25 percent less likely to take risks, and 25 percent less able to choose the most appropriate response to life challenges when compared to 2018. When comparing the same period in 2019 with the same period in 2021, the number of children under the age of 18 who required care for issues ranging from self-harm to eating disorders increased by 77 percent.

The senior education consultant at Steer Education, Simon Antwis, stated that “schools are understandably concerned about the growing number of students who are suffering from poor mental health.” We should be particularly concerned about the state of girls’ mental health in secondary schools, which is on the verge of collapse, and which has been exacerbated by the pandemic, which has been a worrying trend for several years.

As a result of the pandemic, the growing gap between boys’ and girls’ mental health appears to be one of the long-term consequences, with recovery from school closures taking a long time. But the number of girls who are now keeping their worries and fears to themselves is perhaps most concerning, as it will make it much more difficult for their teachers to identify them as vulnerable and in need of support.”

Ovidiu Balaban-Popa

Psychiatrist with a keen interest in learning and sharing that knowledge online. He has developed several health related websites such as,,

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