Mental Health Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Children and Adolescents: A Review of the Current Research

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COVID-19, Child, Adolescent, Mental health Psychological, Anxiety, Depression

Key points

  • Research is ongoing regarding mental health effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic on children and adolescents.•
  • Early studies show children and adolescents experiencing increased anxiety and depression.•
  • Isolation, loneliness, lack of physical activity, family stress, and racism may contribute to the effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic on child and adolescent mental health.


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has created unimaginable challenges for children, adolescents, and their families around the world. This virus, which was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019,1 has led to 23,440,774 cases of COVID-19 in the United States (as of January 16, 2021) and has caused more than 390,938 total US deaths.2 Pandemic-related school and business closings and community lockdowns have had significant effects on families. The earliest world-wide lockdowns that started in China around January 23, 2020,3 included restrictions on schools and gatherings, and resulted in children being transitioned to online school. In the United States, many school districts began transitioning to online school in March 2020 in conjunction with community closures.4 Since then, individual communities and states within the United States have continued to impose and lift restrictions in response to COVID-19 outbreaks. This situation has been and continues to be a constantly changing situation, with new stressors occurring constantly.

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