COVID-19 pandemic impact on adolescent mental health: a reassessment accounting for development.

Wright, N ORCID: 0000-0002-3285-2051, Hill, J, Sharp, H, Refberg-Brown, M, Crook, D, Kehl, S and Pickles, A
(2024) COVID-19 pandemic impact on adolescent mental health: a reassessment accounting for development. European child & adolescent psychiatry. pp. 1-13.

Access the full-text of this item by clicking on the Open Access link.


Current prospective reports suggest a pandemic-related increase in adolescent mental health problems. We examine whether age-related change over 11-14 years accounts for this increase. Mothers and adolescents in a UK-based birth cohort (Wirral Child Health and Development Study; WCHADS; N = 737) reported on adolescent depression and behavioural problems pre-pandemic (December 2019-March 2020), mid-pandemic (June 2020-March 2021) and late pandemic (July 2021-March 2022). Analysis used repeated measures models for over-dispersed Poisson counts with an adolescent-specific intercept with age as a time-varying covariate. Maturational curves for girls, but not for boys, showed a significant increase in self-reported depression symptoms over ages 11-14 years. Behavioural problems decreased for both. After adjusting for age-related change, girls' depression increased by only 13% at mid-pandemic and returned to near pre-pandemic level at late pandemic (mid versus late - 12%), whereas boys' depression increased by 31% and remained elevated (mid versus late 1%). Age-adjusted behavioural problems increased for both (girls 40%, boys 41%) and worsened from mid- to late pandemic (girls 33%, boys 18%). Initial reports of a pandemic-related increase in depression in young adolescent girls could be explained by a natural maturational rise. In contrast, maturational decreases in boys' depression and both boys' and girls' behavioural problems may mask an effect of the pandemic.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Adolescence, COVID-19 pandemic, Depression, Prospective, Sex differences
Divisions: Faculty of Health and Life Sciences
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences > Institute of Population Health
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 12 Jan 2024 16:47
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2024 02:53
DOI: 10.1007/s00787-023-02337-y
Open Access URL:
Related URLs: