Psychological Well-Being Worse for Children During COVID-19

After the end of in-person instruction, increase seen in frequency of youth mental health concerns, including loneliness

WEDNESDAY, May 5, 2021 (HealthDay News) — COVID-19 and the associated end of in-person instruction correlated with worse psychological well-being for children, according to a study published online April 29 in JAMA Network Open.

Using an anonymous survey, Tali Raviv, Ph.D., from the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, and colleagues examined caregiver-reported changes in the psychological well-being of their children three to four months after the start of COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. A total of 32,217 caregivers completed the survey on behalf of 49,397 children in prekindergarten through 12th grade.

The researchers found that compared with before the closure, after the end of in-person instruction, the frequency of caregiver endorsement of youth mental health concerns varied from 0.1 percent (suicidal ideation or self-harm) to 28.3 percent (loneliness) higher. There was variation noted in the frequency of caregiver endorsement of youth positive adjustment characteristics, ranging from −13.4 percent (plans for the future) to −30.9 percent (positive peer relationships) lower after the end of in-person instruction. Across racial/ethnic and household income strata, there were significant differences observed in COVID-19 exposure. The probability of all mental health concerns increased after accounting for covariates; as COVID-19 exposure and family stressors increased, the probability of all positive adjustment characteristics decreased.

“The prevalence of these concerns demonstrate the need for a comprehensive public health approach that prioritizes children’s well-being and draws broad public attention to the mental health needs of youth,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the biopharmaceutical industry.

Abstract/Full Text


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