Concerns about US adolescents’ mental health, suicidal behaviour exacerbated by Covid-19: Study

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Los Angeles– Social and educational disruptions during the Covid-19 pandemic have exacerbated concerns about adolescents’ mental health and suicidal behaviour in the US, said a new study from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the study published on Thursday in the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, nearly three quarters of high school students under the age of 18 reported at least one adverse childhood experience (ACE) during the pandemic. Among them, 53.2 per cent, 12 per cent, and 7.8 per cent reported one to two, three, and four or more ACEs, respectively.

Adverse childhood experiences are associated with poor mental health and suicidal behaviour, and high prevalence of some ACEs have been documented during the pandemic. ACEs are preventable, potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood such as neglect, experiencing or witnessing violence, or having a family member attempt or die by suicide. Also included are aspects of a child’s environment that can undermine their sense of safety, stability, and bonding, the study said.

The study found that ACEs were common among US adolescents during the pandemic and often resulted in acute consequences for mental health and suicidal behaviour, even among some adolescents who reported one to two ACEs, Xinhua news agency reported.

The study noted that the prevalence of poor current mental health and past-year suicide attempts among adolescents reporting four or more ACEs during the pandemic were four and 25 times as high as those without ACEs, respectively.

The study was based on responses from more than 4,300 students in the country to the 2021 Adolescent Behaviours and Experiences Survey, which used stratified, three-stage cluster sampling to obtain nationally representative data from US public and private high school students between January and June 2021. (IANS)

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