OSU Professor Edits Study That Shows Pandemic Taking Mental Toll On Adolescents

Monday, September 6th 2021, 9:57 pm
By: Kristen Weaver

A global study edited by a professor in Tulsa found that COVID lockdowns had a serious impact on mental health in kids and teens.

Researchers worry things could get worse as the pandemic continues. 

Doctor Amanda Morris said she got research from professors and researchers in four continents.

It showed isolation is the biggest cause of depression and it was made much worse in lockdown.

"We wanted to get a broad perspective of what's going on," said Morris.

Morris is a research professor at OSU Tulsa, and she edits an academic journal on adolescents called the Journal of Research on Adolescence.

She said she put out a call to professors around the world a few months back, asking them to research the impact of COVID-19 on kids ages 9 to 22.

"We requested data and papers that looked at adolescents before and during the pandemic," said Morris. "We don't have after yet."

Researchers used things like online surveys and interviews to study the impact.

Some key similarities were that kids and teens already at risk before COVID were much worse during the pandemic, and the loneliness and isolation from lockdown led to noticeably higher rates of depression.

"They need to be around their friends, peers, they need to be connected," Morris said. "Loneliness and depression are for real."

"The number one driver of depression that our kids were reporting is indeed social isolation," said Ken Moore. "Not seeing friends, being stressed at home."

Ken Moore is the Director of the Parkside Psychiatric Hospital Adolescent Acute Unit.

He said their unit has been 90% full or higher over the past year with many more serious suicide attempts.

"I'm really hopeful face to face classroom will really help these kids thrive," Moore said.

Morris said since the pandemic is still going on, it's hard to tell what's next, but urges parents and kids to find ways to cope.

"Mental health is the next pandemic we're going to have to think about," Morris said.

Click here to access the free study.

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