Across diverse contexts, emerging evidence suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic is increasing levels of anxiety and stress. In calling for greater attention to people’s psychosocial and emotional well-being, global actors have paid insufficient attention to the realities of the pandemic in low- and middle-income countries, where millions of people are already exposed to intersecting vulnerabilities. Chronic poverty, protracted violence, conflict and displacement, coupled with weak health, education and protection systems, provide the backdrop of many adolescents’ lives.
Drawing on qualitative in-country telephone interviews with over 500 adolescents in Ethiopia, Côte d’Ivoire and Lebanon, this article unpacks the age and gendered dimensions of COVID-19 and its response. We conclude by discussing the implications for COVID-19 recovery efforts, arguing that embedding adolescent-centred, inclusive approaches in education, community-based health and social protection responses, has the potential to mitigate the psycho-emotional toll of the pandemic on young people and promote resilience.