In pre-Covid times, some parents wondered if their kids had enough grit. We bought books about growth mindsets and worried about “cocooning”. What a luxury that now seems, with schools closed yet again. University courses are being imbibed from the bedroom and the mental-health toll on teenagers in particular is straining the capacity of psychiatrists.

Lockdowns are a psychological experiment on millions of people. Humans are social animals, for whom solitary confinement is punishment. Denied the chance to mix, we are pushed into our own little worlds, amplifying anxieties. This is especially crippling for the youngsters whose teenage years are supposed to be a social rite of passage. Meetings with friends, sports fixtures, holiday jobs and even driving tests are off limits now. There is no escape from parents...

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