Risk factors for adolescents' mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic: a comparison between Wuhan and other urban areas in China

Global Health. 2020 Oct 9;16(1):96. doi: 10.1186/s12992-020-00627-7.


Background: The outbreak of Coronavirus Disease is causing considerable acute risk to public health and might also have an unanticipated impact on the mental health of children and adolescents in the long run. This study collected data during the national lockdown period in China and aims to understand whether there is a clinically significant difference in anxiety, depression, and parental rearing style when comparing adolescents from Wuhan and other cities in China. This study also intends to examine whether gender, grade in school, single child status, online learning participation, parents' involvement in COVID-19 related work, and parents being quarantined or infected due to the disease would lead to clinically significant differences in anxiety and depression. Beyond that, this study explored the pathways among the different variables in order to better understand how these factors play a part in impacting adolescents' mental health condition.

Results: Results showed that there was a statistically significant difference in anxiety symptoms between participants who were from Wuhan compared to other urban areas, but not in depressive symptoms. In addition, participants' grade level, gender, relative being infected, and study online have direct positive predictive value for depressive and anxiety symptoms, whereas location and sibling status have indirect predictive value. Having relatives who participated in COVID-19 related work only had positive direct predictive value toward depression, but not anxiety.

Conclusions: This study discovered several risk factors for adolescents' depression and anxiety during the pandemic. It also called for a greater awareness of Wuhan parents' mental wellbeing and recommended a systematic approach for mental health prevention and intervention.

Keywords: Adolescents; COVID-19; Mental health; Risk factors.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • COVID-19
  • China / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Infections / prevention & control
  • Coronavirus Infections / psychology*
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pandemics* / prevention & control
  • Parenting / psychology
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Viral / prevention & control
  • Pneumonia, Viral / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data*