Mental Health Issues In Teens Skyrocket Since Beginning Of Pandemic, Study Finds

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Devan A. Coombes Contributor
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Among teenagers, mental health issues, including self-harm, substance abuse and overdosing, have skyrocketed since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new study published Tuesday.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on mental health. Infection-related fears, bereavement, economic instability and social isolation have triggered and exacerbated mental health issues,” the study reads.

The study of insurance reports and medical reports was conducted by FairHealth, a national nonprofit that works to bring transparency to healthcare and insurance costs.

Mental health claims overall for teenagers aged 13 to 18 almost doubled for March and April of 2020 compared to 2019. Trends were similar for individuals aged 19 to 20 as they also had rising mental health claims, but less so when compared to teenagers aged 13 to 18. (RELATED: ‘They’re Going To Suffer Later In Life’: Parents In Rural America Speak Out About Remote Learning)

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in March of 2020, insurance claims for intentional self-harm have increased nearly 91% compared to March 2019 in individuals aged 13 to 18, according to the study. In the Northeast in particular, claims went up by nearly 334% in March 2020 compared to 2019.

Females were more likely to require medical attention for mental health-related issues in 2020, according to an Axios report. (RELATED: What Techniques Are Schools Using To Prevent Suicides?)

The study found that claims for overdoses, also teenagers aged 13 to 18, jumped in 2020. In March of 2020, claims jumped 95% from the previous year and in April of 2020 nearly 119%. Claims for substance abuse also increased overall by 63%.

Among teenagers aged 13 to 18, generalized anxiety disorder counted for 93.6% of all mental health claims in April of 2020. Major depressive disorder was the next most common diagnosis. These two diagnoses often led to the claims for overdoses, substance abuse and self harm, according to the study.

The jump in mental health claims comes from schools shutting down, isolation and the general anxiety that comes with the pandemic.

“Young people have proven especially vulnerable to mental health issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. School closures, having to learn remotely and isolating from friends due to social distancing have been sources of stress and loneliness. A review of the international literature identified high rates of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic symptoms among children during the pandemic,” the study’s report reads.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on mental health, particularly on that of young people … The findings in our new report have implications for all those responsible for the care of young people, including providers, parents, educators, policymakers and payors,” Robin Gelburd, president of FairHealth said in a statement, according to the New York Post.