The impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of adolescents and youth
A recent poll conducted by UNICEF shows that the COVID-19 crisis is having a significant impact on the mental health of adolescents and young people in Latin America and the Caribbean
The rapid assessment amplified the voices of 8,444 adolescents and young people between the ages of 13 and 29 in nine countries and territories in the region. The report gives an account of the feelings they faced in the first months of the response to the pandemic and the situation in September.
Among the participants, 27% reported feeling anxiety and 15% depression in the last seven days. For 30%, the main reason influencing their current emotions is the economic situation.
The general situation in the countries and their localities has affected the daily life of young people as 46% report having less motivation to do activities they usually enjoyed. 36% feel less motivated to do regular chores.
Their perception of the future has also been negatively affected, particularly in the case of young women who have and are facing particular difficulties. 43% of the women feel pessimistic about the future compared to 31% of the male participants.
A situation that generates deep concern and is a call to national health authorities is that 73% have felt the need to ask for help concerning their physical and mental well-being. Despite this, 40% did not ask for help.
This figure rises to 43% in the case of women. Health centers and specialized hospitals (50%) followed by worship centers (26%) and online services (23%) are the main mechanisms where they would seek help if needed.
Despite facing great difficulties, many adolescents and young people have found different ways to face new challenges and cope with their emotions. Thousands shared their formula.
My formula has been to help in a community kitchen to distract myself and not think about this pandemia.
(Ignacio, 15 years, Argentina)
My formula has been to read and write what makes me feel bad. On many occasions, I have cried. I have tried to distract myself by drawing or watching series. The covid-19 has change me a lot, I don´t even recognize myself.
(Rosa, 14 years, Guatemala)
We do not all have the same possibilities to maintain our physical and emotional well-being. That´s why I didn´t hesitate to ask for help.
(Roberto, 17 years, Costa Rica)
My formula has been: have kept myself busy, I have excercised more, I have maintained a great attitude.
(Kristien, 17 years, Jamaica)
I don´t have an exact formula. The only thing is that I try not to stress, avoid panic and continue my normal routine. In the end, I told myself that stress does more demage than the virus itself.
(James, 22 years, Haití)
My formula was to change habits, wake uo early to be more productive, self-awareness also helps me a lot.
(João, 17 years, Brazil)
The rapid assessment was conducted through U-Report, a digital platform that promotes the participation of adolescents and young people in issues that affect them. Although the sample is not representative of all youth in the region, the results provide valuable insights into the challenges they face, access to support mechanisms, and how they are managing their emotions. The results are a call to promote youth participation in these and other issues that affect them, to hear their voices, and to increase investment, quality, and access to mental health services in the region.