FRIDAY, July 22, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Stress and isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are associated with psychosocial health problems among a diverse group of adolescents, according to a study published online July 13 in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Jeff R. Temple, Ph.D., from the University of Texas Medical Branch Health in Galveston, and colleagues assessed whether COVID-19-induced financial impact, stress, loneliness, and isolation were related to perceived changes in adolescent mental health and substance use. The analysis included 1,188 adolescents (Black: 23 percent; Hispanic: 41 percent) recruited from 12 Texas public middle schools.

The researchers found that COVID-19-induced stress and loneliness were linked to depression and anxiety. There were fewer symptoms of depression among adolescents who did not limit their physical interactions due to COVID-19. Adolescents who did not restrict their socializing were substantially more likely to report using a variety of substances (e.g., for episodic heavy drinking; odds ratio, 1.81). There was an association observed between increased use of a food bank and depression, and a negative change in financial situation was associated with increased alcohol use (odds ratio, 0.70).

“Substantial structural, community, school, and individual level resources are needed to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on adolescent psychosocial health,” the authors write.

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