Adolescent Carers' Psychological Symptoms and Mental Well-being During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Longitudinal Study Using Data From the UK Millennium Cohort Study

Miharu Nakanishi, Marcus Richards, Daniel Stanyon, Syudo Yamasaki, Kaori Endo, Mai Sakai, Hatsumi Yoshii, Atsushi Nishida

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: During the COVID-19 pandemic, adolescent carers in the UK may have experienced psychological distress owing to increased caring burden and loss of a break from their caring role. This study investigated longitudinal association between adolescents' caring status and mental health outcomes from 2018/2019 to February–March 2021. Methods: The participants (n = 3,927) answered mental health questions in both the Millennium Cohort Study sweep 7 survey (age 17 years in 2018/2019) and at least one of three waves of the COVID-19 survey from May 2020 to February–March 2021. Caring status at the age of 17 years was assessed using a single question regarding whether the participant regularly looked after anyone who needed care, without being paid. Outcome measures were psychological symptoms, measured using the Kessler Distress Scale, and mental well-being, measured using the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale. Results: Compared with 3,616 noncarers, 311 (7.9%) adolescent carers reported significantly higher Kessler Distress Scale and lower Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale scores during the pandemic. These associations were largely explained by psychosocial risk factors. Worse outcomes were associated with poor sleep quality, attempted suicide at baseline, low social support, and a strong feeling of loneliness during the pandemic. These factors were significantly more likely to be observed among adolescent carers than noncarers. Discussion: UK adolescent carers exhibited worsened mental health outcomes one year after the first national lockdown. This increased distress may be attributable to psychosocial risk factors during the pre–COVID-19 and current COVID-19 periods, and they require psychosocial support.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)877-884
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Volume70
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Jun

Keywords

  • Adolescent
  • COVID-19
  • Family caregiving
  • Mental well-being
  • Psychological
  • Symptoms
  • Young carers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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