The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Mental Health of Teens

(1) Roots Ivy International School, Islamabad, Pakistan, (2) McMaster University, Ontario, Canada, (3) University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

The stress, fear, and uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic can wear anyone down, but teens may have an especially tough time coping emotionally. In this study, we aim to highlight the impact of this pandemic on the mental health of teens, who account for almost 50% of the population in Pakistan. We conducted a descriptive cross-sectional study in Islamabad, Pakistan. Due to the COVID-19 lockdown in Pakistan, we collected data through a validated online questionnaire from the students at private schools enrolled only in Cambridge Assessment International Examination (CAIE) system. The study included a total of 289 students, comprised of 116 males and 173 females within the age range of 13–19 years. Our study showed that the prevalence of signs of mental illness was quite high amongst teenagers, with slightly higher prevalence in female respondents. These signs included feeling socially disconnected, frequent mood swings, constant worry, self-dissatisfaction, change in eating habits, and change in sleep cycle. Since there is evidence that significant burden of mental illnesses originates at a young age, we assert that close attention to mental health of young people in quarantine is warranted to avoid any long-term consequences.

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