After the COVID-19 lockdown, an increase in referrals over mental health problems among children and adolescents, particularly girls, was reported. For this reason, studies were launched to analyse the phenomenon and determine whether the increase in admissions was due to a possible accumulation of cases that had been addressed during lockdown or to new cases, as well as to ascertain the longer-term impact of lockdown itself.

This retrospective study, published in the Spanish Journal of Psychiatry and Mental Health, compared the number of admissions to the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychology Service at the Hospital Clínic Barcelona during the lockdown and the following year with the numbers of admissions during the previous year, 2019.

Various Clínic-IDIBAPS and CIBERSAM (groups CB/07/09/0004 and CB/07/09/0005) researchers were involved in the single-centre study. The first authors of the study are Adriana Fortea, from the Multimodal neuroimaging in high risk and early psychosis research group, and Lydia Fortea, from Imaging of mood- and anxiety-related disorders (IMARD), while researchers from two other groups, Child and adolescent psychiatry and psychology (Luisa Lázaro, Inmaculada Baeza) and Bipolar and depressive disorders (Luisa Lázaro, Inmaculada Baeza), also took part.

A total of 2,425 emergency admissions were recorded between 14 March 2019 and 21 June 2021. Analysing the data by gender, age group and diagnostic category, the researchers observed that, after lockdown, even taking into account possible accumulated cases (those which had not been addressed during COVID restrictions), there was a substantial increase (85%) in emergency admissions of female adolescents, especially those related to eating disorders, self-harm and suicide ideation and attempts.

“That is why we recommend strengthening attention to this population to provide adequate specialised care and prevention strategies", says Joaquim Raduà, head of the Imaging of mood- and anxiety-related disorders (IMARD) research group and Corresponding Author of the paper.

Imagen: Researchers of the study

Reference article

Adriana Fortea, Lydia Fortea, Marta Gómez-Ramiro, Giovanna Fico, Anna Giménez-Palomo, Maria Sagué-Vilavella, Maria Teresa Pons, Mireia Vázquez, Nuria Baldaquí, Lluc Colomer, Tábatha Maria Fernández, Felipe Gutiérrez-Arango, Maria Llobet, Ester Pujal, Luisa Lázaro, Eduard Vieta, Joaquim Radua, Inmaculada Baeza, Upward trends in eating disorders, self-harm, and suicide attempt emergency admissions in female adolescents after COVID-19 lockdown, Spanish Journal of Psychiatry and Mental Health, 2023,ISSN 2950-2853, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sjpmh.2023.09.003.

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