Research Alert: November 22, 2022

Rural-Urban Differences in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Prior to and During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Results from the National Survey of Children's Health

This policy brief analyzes data from a large national sample of children and adolescents to examine similarities and differences between rural and urban mental health outcomes prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic and offers considerations for policy and program development.

Key Findings

  • Rural and urban children and adolescents had similar lifetime prevalence of anxiety prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the prevalence of anxiety amongst urban children and adolescents increased during the pandemic, whereas the prevalence of anxiety amongst rural children and adolescents remained stable.
  • Rural children and adolescents, compared to urban children and adolescents, had a higher lifetime prevalence of depression prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the prevalence of depression did not increase during the first year of the pandemic for urban or rural children and adolescents.
  • While rural children and adolescents had a higher lifetime prevalence of behavioral problems prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the prevalence of behavioral problems amongst urban, but not rural, children and adolescents increased over time. Additionally, rural children and adolescents experienced more severe behavioral problems than urban children and adolescents prior to the pandemic.
Contact Information:

Elizabeth Crouch, PhD
Rural and Minority Health Research Center
Phone: 803.576.6055
crouchel@mailbox.sc.edu

Additional Resources of Interest: