Mental health of teachers and teens hit hard by COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of teachers and young teens, with the former – remote instructors in particular – experiencing more anxiety than other workers, and the latter reporting depression due to stress. financial, according to two new American studies.
Teachers at 40% higher risk than health workers
In the first study, published yesterday in Education researcher, researchers from James Madison University and Johns Hopkins assessed the mental health of Facebook users randomly selected to respond to the daily online survey of trends and impact of COVID-19 in the United States . The researchers analyzed data from nearly 3 million adult respondents, including 130,000 teachers, from September 8, 2020 to March 28, 2021.
Teachers were 40% more likely to report anxiety in the past 7 days than healthcare workers, 20% more likely than office workers, and 30% more likely than workers in other occupations, such as the military, agricultural and legal professions. Female teachers in a remote role were 60% more likely to report feeling isolated than their in-person counterparts, and female teachers were 70% more likely to be anxious than their male counterparts.
Compared to teachers, healthcare, clerical and other workers were significantly less likely to report anxiety (odds ratios [ORs], 0.70, 0.81 and 0.78, respectively). Similarly, healthcare workers had a slightly lower likelihood of reporting depression (OR, 0.95) and feeling isolated (OR, 0.96) than teachers. However, office workers and others were significantly more likely than teachers to say they felt isolated (OR, 1.20 and 1.10, respectively).
Teachers who instructed students remotely were significantly more at risk of depression (OR, 1.12) and isolation (OR, 1.56) than those who role-played in person. Across all occupations, women were 90% more likely to report anxiety, 40% more likely to suffer from depression, and 20% more likely to say they felt isolated.
Navigating uncertainty, changing roles
“Even before the pandemic, teacher well-being was a top concern for school leaders,” lead author Joseph Kush, PhD, of James Madison University, said in a press release from the Institute. American Educational Research Association.
He said the team was surprised that teachers had higher anxiety rates than healthcare workers. “We would have guessed that healthcare workers battling COVID-19 on the front lines during a public health crisis would show the most anxiety,” Kush said.
“Although our study did not examine the reasons for teachers’ level of anxiety,” he continued, “we might expect particularly high levels of stress due to uncertainty about how which schools planned to deliver instruction, abrupt changes in lesson plans and teaching methods for remote learning environments and the rapid adoption of new technologies.”
Although different guidelines have been proposed to promote safe and supportive learning environments when schools reopen after closures, the authors said these guidelines often fail to take into account the magnitude of the potential negative effects on mental health. teachers or did not offer alternative approaches to solving these problems.
Kush said the findings reveal the need for tools and programs to help teachers cope and ensure consistent lines of communication between teachers, school leaders, staff and students. “Teacher well-being ultimately impacts their ability to teach effectively,” he said. “When teachers feel supported, it boosts student retention and learning outcomes. Their voices need to be included in decision-making processes.”
Low-income teens are the most vulnerable
In the Adolescent Mental Health in a Pandemic Study, researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) extracted data from 9,720 American adolescents who responded to at least one survey conducted by the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study, a sample of over 10,000 U.S. children ages 11-14, May 2020 through May 2021. Average age was 12.9, 47.8% were female, 18.2% were black and 77.6% were white.
Participants had data on household income and mental health before the pandemic. The research was published yesterday in The Lancet Regional Health-Americas.
The authors noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has not only affected global public health, but has compounded the financial problems of already struggling families and contributed to new financial strain in others.
More than 70% of teenagers said their families had lost their wages during the pandemic. Teens in families that experienced a loss of income were more likely to be Black (19.5% vs. 12.2%), Hispanic (22.0% vs. 12.9%) and live below the poverty line. poverty (15.2% against 4.2%) than those without financial losses. These populations also reported higher levels of stress about the financial cost.
Family financial losses contributed to depression among participants. While teens from all income groups whose families suffered a loss of income during the pandemic reported more depressive symptoms (mean, 15.3 versus 14.8 symptoms) than those who did not, l The effect was most evident among those from lower-income households, who also reported more stress (mean, 7.7 vs 7.3 symptoms) but no difference in substance use patterns.
“The association between financial stress and depressive symptomatology was robust to the addition of multiple environmental confounders,” the researchers wrote. “Family-level (family conflict) and individual-level (financial stress) factors influenced the relationship between lost wages and depressive symptomatology,” suggesting that monetary hardship affects this group through a complex web of indirect pathways.
Clinicians and policymakers should use the findings, they said, to lessen the burden of financial hardship and family conflict on young people’s mental health during economic crises.
“People often think kids don’t feel or understand financial stress, but this study shows not only that they do, but that stress also impacts their mental health,” the author said. principal Ran Barzilay, MD, PhD, in a CHOP. Press release.
“Given the strain that inflation is likely to put on family finances, our findings underscore that financial stress is a key risk factor for adolescent mental health during economic crises and that it is important to address this. this stress given the current global youth mental health crisis.”