New Research Findings Show Children’s Mental Health Worsens When COVID-19 Cases Surge

Monday April 25th, 2022

Posted at 8:46am

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A new scientific paper by local researchers shows children’s mental health worsens when COVID-19 cases surge.

According to the WE-Spark Health Institute, children and their parents or caregivers reported a broad impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children’s psychological distress and psychiatric symptoms during the research phase from June 2020 through December 2021.

Researchers say that children reported greater worry that they or a loved one might contract COVID-19 during months when there were more cases, hospitalizations, and deaths related to COVID-19. Greater worry that they or a loved one might contract COVID-19 was associated with elevated psychological distress and elevated symptoms on 5 of 7 psychiatric disorders (depression, irritability, posttraumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder.

“Given the current public debate about public health measures to curtail the spread of COVID-19, particularly as it relates to children’s safety, this work is especially relevant now,” said Dr. Lance Rappaport, Ph.D. C.Psych., Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Windsor, and Lead Researcher. “Our findings suggest that measures to limit the spread of COVID-19, such as masks and vaccines, may be substantially beneficial to children’s mental health both now and in the future.”

Children also reported greater stress related to lockdowns and the cancellation of significant events when there were more cases, hospitalizations, and deaths related to COVID-19.

Other findings include little evidence that monthly variation in virtual learning was associated with children’s mental health. However, parents and guardians did identify increased psychological distress and depressive symptoms in children when they attended school online.

The full paper can be found here.

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