American students were experiencing widespread mental health distress long before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. A tragic expression of this distress, youth suicide has been on the rise for a decade and is now the second leading cause of death among 15-24 year olds. Now the pandemic is making matters worse. In a recent survey, more than 80% of students said COVID-19 had impacted their lives by increasing isolation, loneliness, stress and sadness. While it is too early to make a conclusive link to national youth suicide data to the pandemic, school districts across the country were report alarming spikes in suicides and self-harm attempts.
These links are by no means surprising given what we know about the impact of social isolation on mental and emotional well-being. While home support orders, quarantines and social distancing precautions are essential public health tools in curbing the spread of infectious disease, these measures may well have the opposite effect on the prevalence of psychological anxiety and distress. Kindergarten to university students faced a sudden transition to online learning in the spring of…
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