• Poor emotional health in children could manifest in long term mental health problems
  • Social isolation and loneliness due to COVID-19 lockdown could cause depression in children
  • Review predicts a spike in demand for mental health services in the near future

Children and young adolescents are likely to experience increased rates of anxiety and depression for a long time even after the current lockdown and social isolation end, according to a recent review into the long-term mental health effects of COVID-19 lockdown.

The study draws on more than 60 pre-existing peer-reviewed papers into topics pertaining to mental health, social isolation, and loneliness for young individuals aged four to 21.

Young individuals who are lonely might be thrice more likely to develop depression in the future and the impact of loneliness on mental health could last as long as nine years, according to the review published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Key findings of the review were that loneliness and social isolation were linked to an increased risk of mental health issues among young individuals, and the duration of loneliness might be more important than the intensity of loneliness in increasing the risk of future depression in young subjects.

The authors urged the policymakers to take this as a warning of the expected rise in demand for mental health services for young individuals in the near future.

"From our analysis, it is clear there are strong associations between loneliness and depression in young people, both in the immediate and the longer-term. We know this effect can sometimes be lagged, meaning it can take up to 10 years to really understand the scale of the mental health impact the COVID-19 crisis has created," stated the lead researcher Dr. Maria Loades, a clinical psychologist from the Department of Psychology, the University of Bath, England, in their press release.

Dr. Loades also suggested the findings of their research could have crucial implications for teachers and policymakers who are currently preparing for a phased restart of schools in the United Kingdom.

She highlighted the fact that returning to some degree of normality at the earliest is very important. But the way it is managed matters when it comes to shaping the feelings and experiences of youngsters about this crisis period.

"For our youngest and their return to school from this week, we need to prioritize the importance of play in helping them to reconnect with friends and adjust following this intense period of isolation," Dr. Loades told the University of Bath.

loneliness and social isolation in chiildren could lead to depression in the future geralt, Pixabay