Special Report

Children's Mental Health a Year Into the Pandemic and Going Forward

COVID-19 has affected people of all ages. Though children are not at a high risk of experiencing a severe form of the illness, they are as exposed as adults to the life changes and stressors the pandemic has created.

Before the pandemic, more than 7% of children between 3 and 17 have a diagnosed behavior problem, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Around 7% have also diagnosed anxiety, and more than 3% a diagnosed depression. Rates of mental health problems increase during community crises such as a pandemic.

24/7 Tempo reviewed information on children’s mental health from the CDC as well as other organizations focusing on children’s health, and discussed the matter with  a child and adolescent family therapist, to compile a list of what parents should know about children’s mental health a year into the pandemic.

We have now lived through a pandemic for a year. The World Health Organization officially declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic on March 11, 2020. By March 17, 2020, the virus had spread to all 50 U.S. states. What came next for children in child care and older was an extraordinary year of sudden school closures, a huge amount of screen time, and social isolation.

Even before the pandemic, mental health problems such as depression and anxiety were on the rise in children 6 to 17, according to the CDC. Research shows that social isolation can make these conditions worse.

A national survey from April and May 2020, just a few weeks after schools first closed, found that nearly a third of school-age children reported being unhappy and depressed more often. Many felt heightened uncertainty about the future.

More than 530,000 Americans have died, accounting for 20% of the reported world total. One of the primary causes, if not the primary cause, of concern among epidemiologists is the rise of variants, which appear to be the main driver of new infections. This is the only state left with zero variants.

Click here to see children’s mental health a year into the pandemic and going forward