Parents are concerned about the effect of school closure, social distancing, and increased internet use on their children’s mental health.
Increased opportunity for internet use makes it more difficult for parents to control this access, and frequent and unsupervised internet use is associated with self-harm and suicidal behaviour in adolescents with psychological risk factors.
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) might not be as lethal in children and adolescents as it is in adults, but it does cause a lot of psychological distress in this age group. Adolescents are experiencing acute and chronic stress because of parental anxiety, disruption of daily routines, increased family violence, and home confinement with little or no access to peers, teachers, or physical activity.
However, in a socioeconomically disadvantaged country, the school environment might be more enriching than the home—nutritionally, emotionally, and developmentally. School closure has seriously disrupted adolescent lives in India, with many young people entering the workplace as a result, possibly never to return to education again.
During the pandemic, adolescents at high risk of psychological problems might fall through the safety net provided by a protective family life, peer support, and psychological support from teachers. It is time to address adolescent mental health in India systematically, to monitor the incidence of various psychiatric disorders (eg, depression, anxiety, and self-harm behaviours), and to identify factors for both risk and resilience.
Also, task sharing and task shifting strategies could be used to develop networks of clinical care across existing health systems to provide mental health care for adolescents.
We declare no competing interests.
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