A Framework-Based Approach to Assessing Mental Health Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Children and Adolescents

Front Psychiatry. 2021 May 13:12:655481. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2021.655481. eCollection 2021.


The COVID-19 pandemic has yielded extensive impacts globally in the year of 2020. Although the mental health of children and adolescents may be particularly susceptible to stressors stemming from the pandemic and anti-contagion policies, most ongoing efforts are geared toward curbing the viral spread. In the current perspective, we have identified four domains of factors corresponding to an ecological framework that may directly or indirectly influence the mental health of children and adolescents during the pandemic. The evidence suggests that anti-contagion policies might trigger cascades that impact the mental health of children and their families through multiple different sectors that used to form a safety net for youths. Additionally, children with neuropsychiatric disorders could experience exacerbated symptoms during the pandemic. Furthermore, the risk of domestic violence has surged during the pandemic, which further compounds the imminent mental health crisis. A mental health pandemic could be inevitable if no proactive prevention strategies were in place. Therefore, we recommend understanding each individual mental health risk pathway via the ecological framework in order to develop integrative prevention and intervention strategies.

Keywords: COVID-19; adolescents; anti-contagion policy; children; mental health.