The COVID-19 Pandemic and the Impact on Child Mental Health: A Socio-Ecological Perspective

Previous studies have shown that, compared to other age groups, the COVID-19 pandemic has most adversely affected children. A recent study led by PISC Executive Committee member Catherine C. McDonald, PhD, RN, examined the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of children. Two case studies were conducted: Alex, a nine-year-old boy diagnosed with ADHD, and Cristiana, a sixteen-year-old girl with divorced parents, both of whom are essential workers. Results were analyzed using Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems. The most significant causes of children’s mental health decline during the pandemic were found to be altered access to services, school closures, and strain on family and interpersonal relations. This study was written with the intention of educating nurses in carrying out mental health interventions in children. Because nurses interact with children, families, and the overall community, they are in an ideal position to help. Furthermore, while assessing mental health in children, nurses should be critical advocates to influence the community by identifying systemic inequities such as health disparities and systemic racism.

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