COVID-19-Related Stress, Isolation Negatively Impacts Teens

Stress and isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are associated with psychosocial health problems among a diverse group of adolescents, according to a study published online July 13 in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Jeff R. Temple, Ph.D., from the University of Texas Medical Branch Health in Galveston, and colleagues assessed whether COVID-19-induced financial impact, stress, loneliness, and isolation were related to perceived changes in adolescent mental health and substance use. The analysis included 1,188 adolescents (Black: 23 percent; Hispanic: 41 percent) recruited from 12 Texas public middle schools.

The researchers found that COVID-19-induced stress and loneliness were linked to depression and anxiety. There were fewer symptoms of depression among adolescents who did not limit their physical interactions due to COVID-19. Adolescents who did not restrict their socializing were substantially more likely to report using a variety of substances (e.g., for episodic heavy drinking; odds ratio, 1.81). There was an association observed between increased use of a food bank and depression, and a negative change in financial situation was associated with increased alcohol use (odds ratio, 0.70). Adolescents are going to At-home therapeutic Virtual Reality and other treatments for stress management.

“Substantial structural, community, school, and individual level resources are needed to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on adolescent psychosocial health,” the authors write.

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