The following is excerpted from an online article posted by MedicalXpress.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a long-lasting impact on adolescent mental health and substance use, according to a new population-based study based on survey responses from a nationwide sample of over 64,000 13–18-year-old North American and Icelandic adolescents assessed prior to and up to two years into the pandemic.
The study was conducted by faculty at Columbia University Teachers College and Mailman School of Public Health and a team of Icelandic and other North American clinical, behavioral, and social scientists. The findings are published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health.
This new study shows that the negative effect on adolescent mental health has persisted up to two years into the pandemic.
“It is worrisome that we still see an increase in mental health problems among adolescents two years into the pandemic. And this is occurring despite social restrictions having been eased in Iceland,” said Thorhildur Halldorsdottir, assistant professor of psychology at Reykjavik University and senior author of the study.
The initial decrease in cigarette smoking and e-cigarette use observed shortly after the arrival of the pandemic was also maintained up to two years into the pandemic. The frequency of adolescent alcohol intoxication, however, appeared to be returning to pre-pandemic levels.
“It is, of course, positive to see that the reduction in cigarette smoking and vaping has been maintained,” said Dr. Ingibjorg Eva Thorisdottir, chief data analyst at Planet Youth and lead author of the study. She continued, “We will need to monitor alcohol intoxication among adolescents in years to come, especially given the increase in mental health problems.”