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Child Indicators Research


Springer Dordrecht

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Managing the COVID-19 pandemic involved implementing public health policies that disrupted students' lives, creating conditions that substantially influenced their mental health and well-being. Subsequently, research focused don the mental health sequelae of increased depression and anxiety, but the possible impacts on adolescents' social well-being have been largely unexamined. Social well-being is essential to youth's overall mental health and can be diminished even without symptoms of depression and anxiety. This report explored heterogeneities in changes in adolescents' social well-being from pre-COVID-19 to post-restrictions using longitudinal data from adolescents attending middle and high schools in California (N = 1,299; 49.9% female). Data collection involved four observations. Participants completed a school-based mental health wellness survey annually from 2019 to 2022. A latent profile analysis identified five profiles demonstrating distinctive social well-being trajectories. Two ordered profiles included Stable-High (28%) and Stable-Low (26%) patterns. Three groups represented nonordered profiles labeled as Succumbing (20%), Languishing (14%), and Recovering (12%). Pervasive decreases in social well-being were observed, and a significant portion of the adolescents did not recover to their pre-COVID-19 level by 2022. Adolescents in the Stable-High and Recovering profiles showed better psychological well-being, optimism, and school connectedness and less distress than their counterparts in the other three profiles. Mental health professionals should be aware of the pandemic's effects on adolescents' social well-being. Lower levels of social well-being may be a risk factor for adolescents developing generally jaded attitudes about their social networks and diminishing their potential engagement with sources of social support.