1. In this overview of systematic reviews, it was found that the pooled prevalence of depression and anxiety in children and adolescents following COVID-19 mitigation strategies were both 32%.

2. In addition, there were important regional differences in the prevalence rates of both anxiety and depression.

Evidence Rating Level: 1 (Excellent)

The COVID-19 pandemic forced countries across the world to adopt mitigation strategies, such as home confinement, which significantly impacted the mental health of children and adolescents. To date, the majority of studies have not emphasized the mental health impact of COVID-19 in the 0-19-year age group. As a result, the objective of the present study was to review the the effects that COVID-19 mitigation strategies had on youth mental health.

Of 1672 identified records, 18 studies (366 unique primary studies) were included in the review from various databases from early 2020 to January 2022. Studies were included if the primary exposure was COVID-19 and included individuals 0-19 years old. Studies were excluded if they included participants exclusively >19 years old or populations with previous medical/mental health conditions. The review was performed using PRISMA guidelines. Quality assessment was performed according to A Measurement Tool to Assess Systematic Reviews-2 (AMSTAR 2). Pooled estimates for all mental health outcomes were extracted from the studies. The primary outcome was the prevalence of depression and anxiety among youth.

The results demonstrated that the overall prevalence of depression and anxiety were each 32%. Importantly, these rates of anxiety and depression were much higher than pre-pandemic estimates. Subgroup analyses demonstrated that those in the Eastern Mediterranean had the highest prevalence of depression and anxiety, whereas South-East Asia had the lowest prevalence. Despite these results, the study was limited by the quality of the included studies, many of which were considered low or very low quality. Nonetheless, the present study highlighted the need for prompt integration of additional youth mental health resources to aid in the overall COVID-19 recovery process.

Click to read the study in British Medical Journal Global Health

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