COVID-19 altered the daily rhythms of adolescent life.
Abrupt and extended changes to in-person education, more limited physical interaction with peers and changes to family life have reshaped how the young experience their world. At the same time, younger Missourians that have experienced the pandemic through the lens of the disease itself — personal illness, or the illness or death of a member of their family or social circle — may experience trauma.
Access to care for mental health issues was constrained before the pandemic and remains a challenge. During COVID-19, emergency department use for young Missourians needing behavioral health services increased. Better integrated primary and mental health care would extend the resources available for mental health conditions while allowing coordinated care.
As lives return to normal, the need for mental health care likely will increase as the cumulative effects of 2020 and 2021 shape young lives and minds. Better coordinated care, better access to support systems in the community and expansion of technology — like telehealth for mental health care — will help young Missourians with COVID-19-related behavioral health conditions get the help they need.