Over the past 3 years, a multitude of studies have highlighted the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of children and young people (CYP). In this umbrella review, we synthesise global evidence on the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of CYP from existing systematic reviews with and/or without meta-analysis.
Adopting the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines, we evaluated 349 citations and identified 24 eligible reviews with medium to high methodological quality to be reviewed narratively.
Most of the reviews reported a high prevalence of anxiety disorders, depression, suicidal behaviour, eating disorders and other mental health problems. Most studies that used data at multiple time points indicate a significant increase in mental health problems in CYP, particularly in females and older adolescents.
Multipronged psychosocial care services, policies and programmes are needed to alleviate the burden of mental health problems in CYP as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated global health measures.