Beatriz Rigo Moises Claire L. Johnson Jonathan Tung Taylor Zhang


Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated mental health issues in children due to the anxiety and fear it propagated worldwide. This study aims to compare the instances of youth hospitalizations for mental health disorders across Canada before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. This paper also compares the differences in rates of youth hospitalizations due to mental health disorders per 100,000 in Western, Eastern, and Northern regions of Canada. Thus, the impact of discrepancies in COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on the prevalence of mental health disorders in youth in different regions of Canada is examined.
Methods: The data used in this study was obtained from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) database. Data was sorted into the pre-pandemic or during-pandemic period and into Eastern, Western, and Northern provinces and territories. A Wilcoxon Signed Rank Test was conducted to compare the differences in hospitalization rates. A Kruskal-Wallis Test was conducted to compare the differences in pre-pandemic and during-pandemic rates between the geographic regions.
Results: Overall, results indicate that the pandemic significantly decreased the prevalence of hospitalizations for mental health disorders in youth in Canada. The results of Wilcoxon Signed Rank Test were statistically significant (p<0.001). The results of the Kruskal-Wallis Test were not statistically significant (p=0.2682).
Discussion: Across all regions of Canada, there was a statistically significant decrease in hospitalizations during the pandemic. One possible reason for this decrease is that fear of attending hospitals was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Limitations include: data on rates of hospitalizations of youth do not take into account more than 1 hospitalization per child, non-hospitalized cases were not considered, fear of seeking help, lack of extensive coverage, as well as the ongoing nature of the pandemic. The only demographic or social factor covered in this paper is geographic location.
Conclusion: Further research is needed to better understand the specific factors contributing to the decrease in hospitalizations for mental health disorders among youth in Canada during the pandemic and to identify effective interventions that can address these issues.

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Primary Research