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COVID-19 and Mental Health of Children and Adolescents

December 8 @ 12:00 pm 1:00 pm

Public health (or emergency) measures implemented to mitigate COVID-19 may have unintended consequences on the mental health of children and youth. This large cross-sectional cohort study examined the impact of COVID-19 emergency measures on child/adolescent mental health for children/adolescents with and without pre-existing psychiatric diagnoses. Parents of children ages 2-18 and self-reporting children/adolescents ages 10-18 indicated changes in mental health across six domains: depression, anxiety, irritability, attention, hyperactivity, and obsessions/compulsions. 67-70% of children/adolescents experienced deterioration in at least one mental health domain. 19-31% of children/adolescents experienced improvement in at least one domain. Children/adolescents with and without psychiatric diagnoses experienced deterioration, with increased rates in those with a pre-existing diagnosis. Greater stress from social isolation was associated with deterioration in all mental health domains. Enhancing social interactions for children/adolescents will be an important mitigation strategy for current and future COVID-19 waves.