What a new study found about the pandemic’s impact on mental health

Significant impact on young girls, those with higher-income backgrounds

A new study conducted by researchers in Canada and Ireland, of 40,000 children and adolescents across 12 countries, found an increase in depression symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly among young girls and those from relatively higher-income backgrounds.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

According to Dr. Russell Fridson, an inpatient psychiatrist at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, “To date, this is the strongest, most convincing evidence for the pandemic’s negative impact on youth mental health. This study is what’s called a meta-analysis, which is considered to provide the most reliable and trustworthy type of data.”

Fridson also mentioned that young people, especially teenage girls, were already experiencing difficulties before the onset of the pandemic.

“Young women shown to really bear the worst effects of social media and they seem to be particularly affected by it. I’m talking about preteens and younger women,” he said.

Michelle Massey Barnes is one of the co-founders and co-directors of Advocates for Mental Health of MI Youth. The organization started in February 2022.

“We are a grassroots parents’ organization that came into existence because there are three of us who couldn’t find mental health help for our children,” Massey Barnes said.

Barnes is now trying to help Michigan kids, teens, and their families get the mental health support they need.

“We try to but sometimes there aren’t resources to direct people to. Sometimes the waiting list is too long. Sometimes what people need doesn’t even exist in Michigan,” she said.

That’s why her organization has been pushing state lawmakers to increase funding for youth mental health.

About the Author:

Will Jones rejoined the Local 4 News team in February 2023 as a weekend anchor and reporter. He previously worked as a general assignment reporter for the station from 2012 to 2015.