If your life is in danger, call the police at 110

The Forgotten Population: Impacts of COVID-19 on Youth Mental Health

The Forgotten Population: Impacts of COVID-19 on Youth Mental Health

By: Precilia Kong, MPH, University of British Columbia and Hana Takeuchi, BA Candidate, Temple University


It’s hard to overstate the negative impact of COVID-19 on all of us. The start of May usually signals a time for us to welcome much-needed respite. However, given efforts to curb the resurgence of COVID-19 cases, Golden Week looked different this year. We ended off the holidays by celebrating Children’s Day (こどもの日) on May 5th, decorating our neighborhoods with colorful koinobori to wish for children’s happiness. But soon after, US Children’s mental health awareness day on May 9th reminds us that positive mental health is essential to a child’s healthy development.


This brings us back to the grim reality: last year, the number of school-aged suicide deaths in Japan hit a record high of 479, with the number of suicides by female adolescents nearly doubling from the previous year to 138.



Last month, TELL was proud to host a two-day Zoom conference, COVID-19 Mental Health Disparities: Pursuing Equality in Japan. Over the two days, speakers and clinicians from a wide variety of backgrounds came together to speak about gender equality and youth suicide awareness.


In related research, Drs Mayumi Hangai, Arisa Yamaguchi, and Naomi Sawada are members of the CODOMO-CORONA project, which was a series of surveys conducted to capture the effects of COVID-19 on Japanese children from April to December 2020. They found that many aspects of children’s lives were disrupted as a result of the pandemic, such as increased screen time, exposure to abusive behaviors by family members (e.g. being yelled at), difficulties sleeping, poor concentration, and concerns about studies, friends, and family. “70% of youth claimed to have experienced traumatic symptoms with 24% of teens having had suicidal thoughts, and 16% actually self-harmed,” claimed Dr. Yamaguchi, also a trained child psychiatrist who believes that COVID-19 may have exacerbated pre-existing mental health issues for youth.


Their research showed that youths’ wellbeing is also being affected by the deterioration of guardians’ and educators’ mental health. For example, amid the pandemic, educators are being asked to take on additional responsibilities such as cleaning the toilet, re-planning curricula, substituting existing events, and even adapting to an increase in the number of classes to compensate for lost time. The mental exhaustion makes it difficult to listen closely to the children, empathize with their feelings, and detect signals for needing help. Please read the following article for some tips to help teachers promote their well-being. TELL also has additional resources to help teachers and parents support children.


Despite these challenges, the research team was excited to share that many youths were very willing to participate in the study. They stressed that there is a need for youth participation: to create safe platforms for youth to have their voices heard.


Billy Cleary, Clinical Director of TELL and trained family and marriage counselor, spoke to us about the importance of recognizing kids’ and youths’ grief and loss. Activities that were once basic expectations, such as social routines, group or club activities that enhance connections, and events (e.g., graduations or competitions) have been disrupted. “Emotionally this is a loss which deserves space to be grieved, or recognized that an important loss has occurred. Simply validating the loss will help someone to cope with the emotions and experience,” says Cleary.


He recommends that youth and the adults in their lives recognize these losses as important, and find creative ways to mark these special occasions and make memories.


The CODOMO-CORONA research team uses their official LINE account to distribute weekly reports (Japanese only) providing useful information about mental health to the general public. Currently, 8,000+ parents, children, and other stakeholders receive this information.



  1. TELL Lifeline: free, anonymous, confidential telephone support, daily (English)
  2. Childline: free telephone service for individuals under 18 years old to talk to somebody when they are troubled (Japanese)
  3. Yorisoi Hotline: free multilingual helpline that provides counseling, guidance on visa issues, nationality, family, work, everyday living, discrimination, domestic violence, confinement, and human trafficking (various languages available)
  4. Me-X: a platform to introduce information to adolescents on a variety of topics (Japanese only)



プリシリア・コンMPH ブリティッシュコロンビア大学 & 武内英 BA候補生、テンプル大学









コロナ×子供プロジェクトでは、半谷まゆみ先生、山口有紗先生、そして 澤田なおみ先生などが、日本の子供たちにおける新型コロナウィルスの影響の調査研究を進めています。これまで2020年の4月から12月の間に、子供たちを対象にした複数回のアンケート調査を実施しました。その結果から、このパンデミックが、どれほど子供たちの日常を変えてしまったのかが浮き彫りになりました。例えば、ゲーム機や携帯電話の画面を見る時間や家庭内での暴力的な行為を受ける機会(怒鳴られたりなど)の増加、寝つきにくさ、集中力の低下、勉学・友人・家族関係の悩みなどが挙げられます。インタビューの中で、小児科医の山口先生は「70%の若者が心的外傷の症状を訴えており、24%にのぼる若者が自殺を考えたことがあることが分かりました。また、16%が実際に自傷行為をした経験があると答えました。」と、コロナ禍と子供たちの心の健康との強い関連性に警鐘を鳴らしています。














 TELLライフライン: 無料、匿名可、秘密が固く守られる電話サポート、毎日相談可(英語)

チャイルドライン: 18歳未満の相談に電話で無料対応(日本語)

よりそいホットライン: 無料、多言語でのヘルプライン、カウンセリングの提供やビザ、国籍、家族、仕事、日常、差別、家庭内暴力、束縛、人身売買などの問題に対応

Me-X: 様々な話題を若者に紹介、提供するプラットフォーム