School closures due to pandemic affect teenage girls’ mental health
The COVID-19 pandemic has placed an unprecedented burden on children, and the health care system is being challenged to meet their needs.
This new research will help us understand how pandemic-related social isolation, limited access to mental health resources at school, family stress and more are affecting our children. how are we. Importantly, it will give us direction in our harm reduction efforts.
In this large retrospective study, researchers examined the percentage change in ED discharges and length of hospital stay from 2019 to 2020, matching a 36-week period corresponding to spring to fall of both years and collect data for children aged 3 to 17 years.
Following the governor’s executive order on statewide school closures in 26 states, at a time when parents avoid taking their children to the hospital for fear of their child’s exposure to the coronavirus – the number of visits and Hospitalizations for acute general medical and mental health care drop dramatically.
However, this trend exists only for acute care cases for general medical conditions, not for mental health disorders in children and adolescents.
Schools closed for isolation
They found that the reductions in ED and hospital discharge for initial psychiatric diagnoses following a statewide school closure order were two to three times less than for general medical conditions.
Hospitalizations for suicide, mental disorders, and eating disorders have increased dramatically following the statewide COVID-19 school closures. By fall 2020, hospitalization rates for suicide or self-injury increased by 41.7%, with 43.8% and 49.2% respectively in adolescents and girls.
The study used the Pediatric Health Information System database and included 2,658,474 encounters and 1,876,715 children. Of the total encounters, 39.3% involved children who were white, 23.7% black, 26.6% Hispanic, and 10.4% of the encounters involved participation of children from other racial or ethnic groups.
“Our findings identify causes for the disproportionate increase in acute mental health visits occurring during periods corresponding to the abrupt switch to distance learning, continued followed by summer vacation and the start of a new school year“, said Zima, a resident professor in the UCLA Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Contrary to the authors’ expectations, acute mental health care encounters do not increase disproportionately for children with disorders such as autism, developmental disorders, and autism spectrum disorders. attention-deficit/hyperactivity – children are more likely to qualify for special education resources.
The increase in hospital admissions indicates impending safety concerns, severe weight loss, or worsening of psychosis symptoms that have led to unwarranted mental health hospitalizations. selectively following statewide school closures.
Adolescent women are particularly vulnerable, with a disproportionate increase in suicide or self-injury encounters in the summer and fall of 2020. Hospitalization rates for suicide or self-injury In the fall of 2020 the growth rate is more than 40% for 12- to 17-year-olds – and almost 50% for girls.
This study is an eye-opener to focus attention on the impact of the pandemic on children’s mental health, which is often overlooked.