Covid pandemic has long-lasting effects on adolescent mental health, substance use: Lancet study

NEW DELHI: The Covid-19 pandemic has had a lasting impact on mental health and substance abuse. teenagersAccording to a study published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health.
The study is based on survey responses from a national sample of more than 64,000 13-18-year-old North American and Icelandic adolescents, assessed before and two years after the pandemic.
A 2021 study by researchers and colleagues at Columbia University in the US found increased depressive symptoms and decreased mental well-being among 13-18-year-olds within a year of the global spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
There has also been a decline in substance use, particularly smoking, e-cigarette use and alcohol poisoning.
Extending these findings, the new study shows that negative effects on adolescent mental health persisted up to two years after the pandemic.
“It’s worrying that two years after the pandemic, we’re still seeing an increase in mental health problems among teenagers. This is happening despite the easing of social restrictions in Iceland,” said Torhildur Halldordordottir, an assistant professor at Reykjavík University in Iceland. senior author of the study.
The initial decline in smoking and e-cigarette use seen shortly after the pandemic was sustained for two years before the pandemic began, the researchers said.
However, the incidence of teenage drinking appears to have returned to pre-pandemic levels, they say.
“It’s definitely positive to see a reduction in smoking and smoking,” said Ingibjörg Eva Thorisdottir, senior analyst at Iceland-based research council Planet Youth and lead author of the study.
“We need to control teenage drinking in the coming years, especially given the rise in mental health problems,” Thorisdóttir said.
The study also examined the association of immigration status, residency, parental social support, and nightly sleep duration with adolescent mental health and substance use.
Parental social support and getting an average of 8 hours or more of sleep per night were associated with better mental health and less substance use in adolescents, researchers said.
They say the relationship between immigration status and residency and adolescent mental health is less clear.
These findings suggest that exposure to stressors such as the Covid-19 pandemic affects all adolescents to some degree, rather than just vulnerable subgroups.
“Policymakers should consider implementing broad-based evidence-based prevention interventions targeting depressive symptoms to mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic,” said John Allegrante, a professor at Columbia University and senior researcher on the study.

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