The COVID-19 Pandemic and the Impact on Child Mental Health: A Socio-Ecological Perspective
Marcus D. Henderson, Cynthia J. Schmus, Catherine C. McDonald, and Sharon Y. Irving
The COVID-19 pandemic poses an increased threat to the mental and behavioral health of children. There is an increasing prevalence of mental health problems in children, coupled with the variability of access to mental health services and the impact of trauma and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) on child health. The prolonged duration of the current pandemic put children at increased risk for an even higher rate of mental and behavioral health problems. Prior to the pandemic, the mental health workforce was ill equipped to care for the growing need and demand for child-specific services. As the pandemic continues to invade communities across the nation, it is vital for pediatric nurses to acknowledge COVID-19 as a major disruptor to the typical growth and development of children. The full impact of this COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health for children is uncertain. However, its impact on an already limited child-focused mental health workforce will indeed have a long-lasting impact on the health and well-being of children and their families. The socio-ecological impact of COVID-19 and its duration for those children with known mental health problems and those in whom such challenges will arise has implications for future models of care. Nurses are well-poised to both assess and intervene with mental health problems to reduce the long-term, potentially negative effect of COVID-19 on the health and well-being of children.