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Emerging adults' mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic: A prospective longitudinal study on the importance of social support


Yvonne van den Berg, William Burk, Antonius Cillessen, Karin Roelofs


The aim of this prospective longitudinal study was to examine emerging adults’ mental health problems during the COVID-19 pandemic, while taking into account pre-existing problems as well as social support from close others. Participants were 85 emerging adults (46% boys) who were assessed prior to COVID-19 (February-September 2018; Mage = 20.60 years) and during the first lockdown (May-June 2020; Mage = 22.67 years). The pandemic did not uniformly lead to elevated levels of mental health problems. Whereas high levels of maternal support were related to decreases in general psychological distress and depressive symptoms, low levels of paternal support were related to increases in general psychological distress, anxiety and depressive symptoms. Support from friends and living situation were not associated with (changes in) mental health. Findings underscore the importance of prospective longitudinal studies to understand the consequences of COVID-19 for young adults as well as protective and risk factors involved.

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Yvonne van den Berg