Working Papers





Three Years of COVID-19-related School Restrictions and Mental Health of Children and Adolescents in Japan

Author:Reo Takaku, Naohisa Shobako, Taisuke Nakata


During the three years of the COVID-19 pandemic, Japanese children lived with strict mitigation measures at school, such as eating school lunches silently and wearing masks during physical exercise classes, even after those mitigation measures have been relaxed worldwide. Excursions and other school events were frequently cancelled, especially in 2020 and 2021. This study conducts a retrospective survey on school experiences to understand how the strict mitigation measures were related to children’s mental health and well-being. Results revealed school excursion cancellation to be associated with a higher risk of developing depressive symptoms (odds ratio [OR] 1.543 [95% confidence interval {CI} 1.109-2.148]), and high cancellation rate of other school events to be associated with dissatisfaction in school experience (OR 1.650 [95% CI 1.222-2.228]). In the subsample analysis, we found that girls and children with no extracurricular activities tended to exhibit depressive symptoms due to the cancellation of school excursions. Overall, our study demonstrated that persistent strict mitigation measures at schools might be a key factor in understanding children’s mental health and psychological well-being during a long-lasting pandemic.