Children and adolescents’ mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic: A qualitative study of their experiences

J Child Adolesc Psychiatr Nurs. 2022 Dec 25. doi: 10.1111/jcap.12404. Online ahead of print.

ABSTRACT

TOPIC: Public health measures implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic severely disrupted children and adolescents’ (C&A) lives, affecting their sense of structure, predictability, and security.

PURPOSE: To examine C&A’ experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic to better understand how this context and its associated public health measures affected them and their mental health, and to identify helpful coping strategies.

SOURCES USED: The study was guided by a participatory hermeneutic framework. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 25 C&A aged 6-17 years during the first and second pandemic waves. Participants’ interviews were analyzed following a narrative synthesis approach, through which C&A’ experiences were contrasted and contextualized to highlight relevant themes.

CONCLUSIONS: Participants described a distinct pattern related to their mental health as the pandemic unfolded, which followed the severity of the pandemic in the province. Negative repercussions on their mental health were linked to the loss of social activities, imposed public health measures, transition to online learning, and challenges with family relationships. Certain youth shared positive societal and moral reflections triggered by the pandemic context. Coping strategies reported include: having a variety of hobbies; expressing their emotions; and accessing financial and material resources. This study highlights the importance of supporting C&A’ mental health during crisis situations such as a pandemic. Their perspectives are vital for clinical practice and policy improvement, particularly to find means for social engagement while maintaining safety.

PMID:36566357 | DOI:10.1111/jcap.12404

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