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How covid affected teenagers' mental health

A new Lancet study claims that the covid pandemic had a significant long-lasting impact on the mental health of young people

The negative effect on adolescent mental health persisted up to two years into the pandemic. (Unsplash)

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While ascertaining the pandemic's actual long-term impact on mental health is likely to take some time, conversations and concerns around the impact of covid on mental health continue. A new study, this one published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal, confirms, however, that the pandemic has had a long-lasting impact on mental health among adolescents. 

PTI reported that the research was based on survey responses from a nationwide sample of over 64,000 adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18, assessed prior to and up to two years into the pandemic. According to the wire service, researchers at Columbia University in the US and colleagues found an increase in depressive symptoms and a decrease in mental well-being among these adolescents within one year of the global spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. “A decline in substance use, in particular cigarette smoking, e-cigarette use and alcohol intoxication, was also observed,” reported PTI.

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The latest study conducted two years after the first, expands on these findings showing that the negative effect on adolescent mental health 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, an assistant professor at Reykjavik University in Iceland, and senior author of the study, to PTI. 

Researchers also pointed out that 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. However, the frequency of adolescent alcohol intoxication appeared to be returning to pre-pandemic levels, they told PTI. 

"It is of course positive to see that the reduction in cigarette smoking and vaping has been maintained," said Ingibjorg Eva Thorisdottir, chief data analyst at Iceland-based research consultancy Planet Youth, and lead author of the study to the wire service. However, Thorisdottir also added, "We will need to monitor alcohol intoxication among adolescents in years to come, especially given the increase in mental health problems." 

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