During restrictions implemented by health officials as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, children may be at risk of worsening mental health even long after the epidemic ends, according to new research in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
The findings are part of a thorough review of more than 60 peer-reviewed papers on the topic of social isolation and mental health among children and young adults.
The review uncovered a wealth of evidence substantiating the assertion that social isolation can cause depression or anxiety that lingers in the long-term.
“This rapid review of what is known about loneliness and its impact on mental health in children and young people found that loneliness is associated with both depression and anxiety,” the co-authors commented in a news release.
“This occurs when studies measured both loneliness and mental health at the same point in time; when loneliness was measured separately; and when depression and anxiety were measured subsequently, up to 9 years later.”
The new findings were released at a time where the pandemic continues to take a toll on everyday life and where research on this novel coronavirus strain is rampant.
“It’s key that children and young people are allowed to return to activities such as playing together, even if outdoors, as soon as possible, and that they are able to resume attending school, which gives them a structure for their day, and provides them with opportunities to see peers and to get support from adults outside of the nuclear family,” lead author Maria Loades stated in the news release of the findings.
“Alongside this, the government could target children’s wellbeing in public health messaging. And meanwhile, we should also continue to embrace technology as a way to keep in touch.”