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Effects of COVID-19 on Pediatric Mental Health and Substance Use

Background: During the recovery phase of the pandemic, there has been little research on the increase of mental health and substance use statistics in youth since the start of COVID-19, however, based on scholarly evidence, the population is suffering. Objective: A needs assessment survey will gather data from public school personnel based on their interpretation of students' attitudes and actions in school to help determine if there should be a continuation in the nursing research process. Methods: Public school counselors and nurses completed an anonymous, multiple-choice and short answer survey based on their own perspectives of student mental health and substance use in schools since the start of the COVID pandemic. The questions also regarded their confidence in identifying struggling students, helping them receive help, and their interest in learning more on the subjects. Results: Qualitative data by staff showed that students have had a definitive increase in mental health concerns and a possibility of increased substance use that may be closely related. Staff also report not being as confident in helping these students as they are in identifying the problem. Implications: This data shows that there is a need for further surveillance, directly with the students, and later a plan should be put in place with goals for increased staffing knowledge, as well as prevention and intervention.

Liza Gagnon '22
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