Johns Hopkins Children's center study shows negative impact of COVID-19 pandemic on youth minority mental health

March 27, 2024
Johns Hopkins research.

Recent historical, political and public health events, most notably the COVID-19 pandemic, have collectively contributed to increased stress and mental health challenges among many groups of people — including adolescents in racial and ethnic minorities.

In a study published February 1 in Academic Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins Children’s Center researchers investigated the pandemic’s effect on preexisting mental health disparities among youth, and found rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors significantly increased during the pandemic and in the post-pandemic period, especially among Black, Asian and Hispanic females.

Using electronic medical record data from Johns Hopkins Community Physicians, a healthcare system with 40 locations throughout Maryland, researchers evaluated changes in annual rates of depression, anxiety and suicide risk-related diagnoses among 29,117 adolescents ranging in age from 8 to 20. Researchers organized participants into subgroups based on gender, race and ethnicity — Asian, Black, Hispanic and white young males and females.

The researchers found that almost all racial and gender subgroups had significantly higher rates of depression and anxiety after the start of the pandemic, compared to the years prior. Data shows rates of anxiety significantly increased — especially among Asian females, who saw a 136% increase (25.4 to 59.9 out of 1,000). In addition, rates of depression rose substantially among all subgroups, with the highest rates among females across all racial groups. Hispanic males had a 190% increase in rates of depression (12.1 to 35.1 out of 1,000). Researchers also found suicidal thoughts and behaviors substantially increased among all subgroups — most notably female subgroups, with the largest increases among Asian females, who saw a 171% increase (2.8 to 7.5 out of 1,000), and Black females, who had a 90.2% increase (5.1 to 9.7 out of 1,000).

Johns Hopkins release