Assessment of the Pediatric Mental Health Calls Program during the COVID-19 Pandemic and Stress Findings Among Teens and Adolescents.




Song, Joice
Bui, Priya
Garcia, Joanna


Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Purpose: The Pediatric Mental Health Calls Program was created in March 2020 as a response to the dramatically reduced in-person medical visits and increased virtual visits at the UNTHSC Pediatrics Clinic in Fort Worth following the COVID-19 pandemic. The program was initially used as a tool to support pediatric patients and caregivers while following up on their mental health status. However, considering the potential for the PMHC program in monitoring the long-term and enduring effects of the pandemic on the mental health of teens and adolescents, the program was assessed for data summary and project growth. Methods: The Pediatric Mental Health Calls were previously performed by trained medical and PA student volunteers who used call scripts to standardize the conversation with patients and their caretakers. In a retrospective review, data collected by REDCap electronic data capture tools was then stratified into three main groups: Infant, Toddler and Teens from 2020-2022. Data was then screened and summarized based on yes or no questions as answered by the patient’s caregivers regarding stress levels and mental health. Interview questions were also assessed for areas of improvement. A Chi-squared test of independence analysis was used, and significance was set at p < 0.05. Results: When surveying parents of teens and adolescents age 10-19, there was a higher percentage that reported yes to increased stress due to COVID-19 in 2021 (53%) compared to 2020 (39%), with a statistical significance of p < 0.015. Of the teens and adolescents who had online schooling for six months to one year or greater at the time of surveying in 2021, the percentage of increased stress was even higher at 61%. In addition, problems with discipline, motivation and/or socialization in teens and adolescents were higher in students who reported increased stress due to the pandemic in 2021 than in students who reported no stress. Conclusions: Due to the relatively inexpensive and flexible nature of home calling by volunteers, the PMHC program is a viable way to monitor stress and its effect on mental health amongst the pediatric population alongside changes in the COVID-19 pandemic, especially with the lift of quarantine mandates and return to in-person schooling. Future health calls may be improved by incorporating more of the teen/adolescent answers alongside parents to gauge correspondence between answers as well as providing scaled answer choices for further quantitative analysis.