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15-04-2021 | Uitgave 9/2021

Research on Child and Adolescent Psychopathology 9/2021

Coping and Mental Health in Early Adolescence during COVID-19

Research on Child and Adolescent Psychopathology > Uitgave 9/2021
Andrea M. Hussong, Allegra J. Midgette, Taylor E. Thomas, Jennifer L. Coffman, Su Cho
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The current longitudinal study examines changes in overall mental health symptomatology from before to after the COVID-19 outbreak in youth from the southeastern United States as well as the potential mitigating effects of self-efficacy, optimism, and coping. A sample of 105 parent–child dyads participated in the study (49% boys; 81% European American, 1% Alaska Native/American Indian, 9% Asian/Asian American; 4% Black/African American; 4% Latinx; and 4% other; 87% mothers; 25% high school graduate without college education; 30% degree from 4-year college; 45% graduate or professional school). Parents completed surveys when children were aged 6–9, 8–12, 9–13, and 12–16, with the last assessments occurring between May 13, 2020 and July 1, 2020 during the COVID-19 outbreak. Children also completed online surveys at ages 11–16 assessing self-efficacy, optimism, and coping. Multi-level modeling analyses showed a within-person increase in mental health symptoms from before to after the outbreak after controlling for changes associated with maturation. Symptom increases were mitigated in youth with greater self-efficacy and (to some extent) problem-focused engaged coping, and exacerbated in youth with greater emotion-focused engaged and disengaged coping. Implications of this work include the importance of reinforcing self-efficacy in youth during times of crisis, such as the pandemic, and the potential downsides of emotion-focused coping as an early response to the crisis for youth.

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