Change in Youth Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic in a Majority Hispanic/Latinx US Sample.

Published on Apr 1, 2021in Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry6.936
· DOI :10.1016/J.JAAC.2020.12.027
Francesca Penner6
Estimated H-index: 6
(UH: University of Houston),
Jessica Hernandez Ortiz1
Estimated H-index: 1
(UH: University of Houston),
Carla Sharp59
Estimated H-index: 59
(UH: University of Houston)
Abstract Objective Children and adolescents, individuals from racial and ethnic minority groups, and those with mental health conditions may be at greater risk of worsened mental health due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This study examined change in mental health from before to during the pandemic among predominantly Hispanic/Latinx adolescents. Method 322 young adolescents (Mage = 11.99, 55% female), with a racial/ethnic composition of 72.7% Hispanic/Latinx, 9.3% Black or African American, 5.9% Multiple Races, 5.0% Asian, 1.6% White, and 1.2% American Indian, completed a mental health screening measure prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and at three points during the pandemic. A subsample also completed a survey about their experience at home during COVID-19. Repeated measures mixed ANCOVA was used to evaluate change in each mental health domain, and whether youth who had elevated symptoms at baseline differed in their level of change, controlling for age and gender. Results For youth who had elevated levels of mental health problems pre-pandemic, symptoms were significantly reduced across domains during the pandemic. Reductions in internalizing, externalizing, and total problems were clinically significant. For other youth, there were statistically significant reductions in internalizing and total problems, and no change in attention or externalizing problems. Post-hoc analyses revealed that better family functioning was consistently related to lower mental health symptoms in youth during COVID-19 follow-ups. Conclusion COVID-19 stay-at-home regulations may offer protective effects for youth mental health. Study results may be specific to this population of predominantly Hispanic/Latinx youth from a large city in the southwestern US.
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