Social connectedness and healthy behaviors, such as sleep and physical activity, are buffering factors against the deleterious effects of the pandemic on adolescents' mental health, according to a new study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health (2022).
The researchers conducted a longitudinal study of more than 3000 young adolescents who are most vulnerable to the psychological toll of the pandemic to provide insights to inform strategies to help adolescents cope better in times of crisis.
The study found that better social support, regular physical activity, coping strategies, and healthy behaviors predicted better emotional well-being.
The authors concluded that increased physical activity, maintaining routines, and taking breaks from news stories, could be targets for prevention of mentalhealth problems in youth during a major life stress, like a pandemic.
The researchers also noted that modifiable lifestyle-related factors such as sleep may be the first approach to improving adolescents' psychological wellness, for example, by promoting regular sleep routines with educational programs.
Mental health and prevention specialists should be providing youth and parents with interventions designed to increase healthy lifestyle behaviors to better cope with major life crises, environmental stressors and other sources of trauma.
Read the full research article: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1054139X21006364