An investigation of mental health status of children and adolescents in china during the outbreak of COVID-19

J Affect Disord. 2020 Oct 1;275:112-118. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2020.06.029. Epub 2020 Jul 2.


Objective: The sudden outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has had a dramatic effect on the mental health of the public. In the present study, we demonstrated the psychological effects on children and adolescents associated with the epidemic .

Methods: By using convenience sampling method, questionnaires, such as Spence Child Anxiety Scale, Child Depression Inventory and Coping style Scale, were distributed to participating 359 children and 3254 adolescents online.

Results: The anxiety levels of children and adolescents were (23.87 ± 15.79) and (29.27 ± 19.79), respectively. 22.28% respondents were suffering from depressive symptoms. Seven significant factors associated with increased levels of anxiety, including female, resident in urban regions, emotion-focused coping style. Nine factors associated with increased levels of depression, such as smartphone addiction (OR 1.411, 95% CI 1.099-1.180), Internet addiction (OR 1.844, 95% CI 1.209-2.811), and resident in Hubei province (OR 3.107, 95% CI 1.252-7.708). Two additional factors associated with decreased levels of depressive symptoms: hours spend on Internet per day before the epidemic (OR 0.652, 95% CI 0.609-0.697) and tendency to apply problem-focused coping style (OR 0.937, 95% CI 0.923-0.951).

Conclusion: Our findings indicate that the COVID-19 outbreak has had a significant psychosocial impact on children and adolescents. Findings of current levels of anxiety and depression not only highlight the need to address emotional distress for children and adolescents during the epidemic but also provide researchers with scientific fundamentals to formulate targeted interventions based on the significant influencing factors.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • COVID-19
  • Child
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / psychology*
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires