International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
URL with Digital Object Identifier
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, population surveys revealed increased levels of anxiety and depression, while findings from large-scale population data analyses have revealed mixed findings with respect to the mental health consequences for children and youth. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the well-being and health-compromising behaviors of adolescents (12–18 years) previously referred for mental health services. Data were collected (pre-pandemic n = 3712; pandemic n = 3197) from mental health agencies across Ontario, Canada using the interRAI Child and Youth Mental Health assessment. Our findings revealed no increased incidence of witnessing domestic violence nor experiencing physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. Further, there were no increases in the risk of self-harm and suicide, anxiety, or depression among our sample of clinically referred youth. Finally, results demonstrated no increase in problematic videogaming/internet use, disordered eating, or alcohol intoxication, and a decrease in cannabis use. Our findings add to the growing body of knowledge as to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children and youth. Further, findings underscore the importance of understanding the nuanced impact of the pandemic on various subgroups of children, youth, and families and highlight the need for continued monitoring of outcomes for these children and youth.