Description: Is statement this true? Teenagers are struggling with a significant increase in mental health issues due to the social impacts of the Covid pandemic. You have heard this more than once or twice, haven’t you? Have you taken a closer look to see if there is actually any data supporting this statement? Think for a minute about what might be going on if the statement is NOT true and then read through the article linked below to see BOTH what some data (less of which is available on this question than you might think) has to say on this question and to see what else might be going on.
Source: Teen mental health in Covid-19 may not be as bad as we think, Kelly Dean Schwartz, The Globe and Mail and The Conversation.
Date: October 15, 2021
So, maybe the kids are alright (The Who, 1966)! In the article Kelly Dean Schwartz first points to a general lack of good data on this question. He then points out that according to what good data there seems to be it seems likely that Covid has NOT really made things worse for teenagers. Finally, he goes on to point out that much of the discussion and hand wringing in the media over teenage mental health has been playing rather fast and lose with the clinical meaning of terms like anxious stressed and depressed, in whys that threaten to drive up issues of stigma that we have been trying to deal with and reduce in recent years. So, yes, there are teenagers who need genuine support and assistance and yes, there have been socially driven Covid impacts beyond the fear of Covid itself among teenagers BUT the response of teenagers to Covid related issues, maybe, has been more normal, healthy and resilient than it has been an emerging mental health train wreck. Maybe we need to get back to work on issues of stigma and on the broader delivery of good mental health services and supports where needed.
Questions for Discussion:
- Are teenagers worse off today (at the end, we hope, of the Covid pandemic) in terms of their mental health than they were before Covid?
- How do issues of stigma in relation to coping and mental health factor into this question?
- What should we be doing, or trying to do, in relation to teenagers and their mental health right now?
References (Read Further):
Offord, D. R., Boyle, M. H., Szatmari, P., Rae-Grant, N. I., Links, P. S., Cadman, D. T., … & Woodward, C. A. (1987). Ontario Child Health Study: II. Six-month prevalence of disorder and rates of service utilization. Archives of general psychiatry, 44(9), 832-836. Abstract Link
Waddell, C., Georgiades, K., Duncan, L., Comeau, J., Reid, G. J., O’Briain, W., … & 2014 Ontario Child Health Study Team. (2019). 2014 Ontario child health study findings: policy implications for Canada. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 64(4), 227-231. Link
Vaillancourt, T., Szatmari, P., Georgiades, K., & Krygsman, A. (2021). The impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of Canadian children and youth. Link
Bresgi, Adina Advocates sound alarm about ‘life and death’ stakes of youth mental health crisis Link
Bélanger, R. E., Patte, K. A., Leatherdale, S. T., Gansaonré, R. J., & Haddad, S. (2021). An Impact Analysis of the Early Months of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Mental Health in a Prospective Cohort of Canadian Adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health. Link
Watkins-Martin, K., Orri, M., Pennestri, M. H., Castellanos-Ryan, N., Larose, S., Gouin, J. P., … & Geoffroy, M. C. (2021). Depression and anxiety symptoms in young adults before and during the COVID-19 pandemic: evidence from a Canadian population-based cohort. Annals of general psychiatry, 20(1), 1-12. Link
Schwartz, Kelly, et al., (2021) Covid-19 and Student Wellbeing Link