BACKGROUND: The worldwide lockdown and social isolation measures during COVID management are likely to have a negative impact on emotional wellbeing. While the psychological impact on health care workers or the general adult population are being studied, not much data is available about the psychological impact on adolescent population (and none from India so far), an already sensitive and vulnerable developmental age. This study tried to bridge that gap.
AIM: This pilot study was planned to assess the emotional wellbeing of adolescents during these socially distant times causing school closures.
METHOD: 60 Indian adolescents enrolled from 9th to 12th standards of a few private schools with medium of instruction as English, participated in web based assessments where standardized tests were used to assess different components of emotional wellbeing: Positive affect, Negative affect, Difficulty in emotion regulation, and Life satisfaction. The measures used for these were Positive And Negative Affect Scale (PANAS), Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS), and Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS).
RESULTS: The adolescents were found to be experiencing high negative affect and low positive affect. Also, mild to severe difficulties with emotion regulation were found in 23.33 percent of the sample, and low satisfaction with life in 30 percent of the sample. Gender differences weren’t found in all study variables.
While satisfaction with life was found to be modestly negatively associated with difficulty in emotion regulation, both these variables were found to be strongly associated with relative presence of positive affect over negative affect, with nil to low correlations with absolute values of both kinds of affects, revealing thought provoking insights about this differential. The results have been discussed in the context of restrictions on wellbeing promoting activities, and other factors associated with the lockdown.
CONCLUSION: Relevant recommendations for caregivers and mental health practitioners in contact with adolescents have been offered in the paper, which may help buffer the impact of the lockdown, and help enhance adolescents’ emotional wellbeing while they cope with a new albeit temporary norm of being,
and communicating. For mental health practitioners and psychotherapists especially, the case for more tele mental health services, mental health apps, web based group interventions becomes stronger than ever. Therapeutic focus could be on introducing more experiences and opportunities in their lives which
allow for an increase in positive affect, irrespective of the level of negative affect experienced by them.
Keywords: Adolescence, Emotional wellbeing, Psychological wellbeing, COVID-19, Social isolation, Lockdown