Background: The COVID-19 outbreak and stay at home orders has had multifaceted consequences on the mental health of adolescents. Therefore, the authors aim to (1) Investigate the feelings of depression among adolescents during the COVID-19 pandemic (2) Evaluate the mental help seeking behavior and awareness among the adolescents.
Methodology: A cross-sectional survey was undertaken where adolescents in the age group of 10 to 19 years were invited to participate with a self-administered questionnaire. A snowball sampling strategy was used, focusing on recruiting adolescents living in Bangalore, India during the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. The survey included the PHQ-2 scale and questions on help seeking and awareness. The questionnaires were completed in English through an online survey platform. Data collection took place over five days.
Results: The study included 300 participants with a mean age of 17.01 +/- 1.34 years. PHQ-2 scale revealed a sample mean of 1.32 (SD=0.99). 34.7% felt little interest or pleasure in doing things on several days and 32.0% felt down depressed or hopeless on more than half the days. 52.3% of the adolescents indicated that they were unlikely or were unsure about seeking help for mental health issues and 24.3% were not aware of any mental health helpline. No association between socio-demographics and PHQ-2 scale was established. Majority indicated intention to seek help from parents or siblings.
Conclusion: Adolescents constitute a vulnerable population and need careful consideration. The COVID -19 outbreak has resulted in increased depressive symptoms, anger, difficulty in relaxation and sleep disturbances. Lack of awareness of support and reluctance to use the resources has had a compounding effect on the mental health status of adolescents. Adolescents often choose to express their mental health concerns to their parents and siblings. Therefore, it is worth considering family as a potential resource of support for adolescents in this challenging time of need.