Research Suggests That Girls’ Mental Health Was More Affected Than Boys During The Pandemic
While early data showed that men faced a higher mortality risk due to the virus, women were more likely to face a greater social and economic burden. Before 2019, women faced significant barriers to gender equality, especially concerning finances, employment, education, unpaid labor, and gender-based violence. COVID-19 only served to deepen those divides.
Evidence has shown that the COVID pandemic has significantly impacted women’s mental health more than men’s. For example, lockdowns and the stress of homeschooling have been found to take a greater toll on working mothers than fathers, while women have been more likely to experience increases in loneliness over the past two years.
Evidence from studies
Multiple studies were created in the UK to focus on the experience of the COVID pandemic. Children in the UK have been directly affected by the closures of schools and childcare facilities, which contributed to the decline in their mental well-being. School closures were compounded by a lack of social interaction during lockdowns and increased stress within families, which can have a flow-on effect on children.
In such studies, children’s mental well-being was measured by scores on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, a survey used to measure children’s emotional and behavioral difficulties. For example, it measures a child’s ability to pay attention, manage their behavior and emotions, and interact with their peers.
Furthermore, people between 16 and 18 years old were more negatively affected than younger teens during the pandemic, which may have been, at least partly, a result of disruptions in education. While teens aged 13 to 15 continued to attend school in person, the older students typically switched to remote learning.
According to the World Health Organization’s Determinants of Adolescent Health Development, several factors can shape young people’s mental health. These include social and economic inequalities, neighborhood safety, relationships at school and in the community, relationships with family, as well as age, race, ethnicity, gender, etc.
The pandemic has also impacted the civic space, limiting the ability of women’s rights organizations and other progressive voices to participate in this critical juncture. Authoritarianism and sexist populism have been reinforced during the pandemic, and progressive leaders, many of them being women, have suffered attacks and a reduction in resources.
How to treat depression and anxiety in teens
One of the most important ways to help kids struggling with stress, anxiety, or depression is simply to talk about it. Have a conversation about how hard things are. Normalize and validate that experience for your child. Having a conversation and acknowledging that things aren’t easy is a first step for parents to hear directly from their children how they are doing. If parents are concerned, they can also engage the school environment and contact counselors, psychologists, and social workers in a school setting who may be able to check-in.
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