The first comprehensive study to evaluate research on child and adolescent mental health using evidence from before and during COVID-19 has identified mental health implications that could lead to increased demand for support services.
The study, led by the University of Exeter and the University of Cambridge, is the first to look at young people’s mental health before and during the pandemic. The study offers more insight into the changes in mental health of children and adolescents of different ages around the world during the pandemic.
published in the study Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, and funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) with some support from NIHR PenARC. The researchers brought together 51 studies examining how the pandemic was affecting young people’s mental health across a range of areas. Importantly, these studies included information about the mental health baseline collected before the pandemic, rather than relying on retrospective perceptions of change.
The demand for fast-paced research amid the nascent pandemic meant the standard of studies varied, with only four studies being rated as high quality.
While the evidence for some aspects of mental health suggested some decline, overall the results were mixed, with no clear pattern emerging. There were mixed results from studies that measured the same type of mental health problems in different ways, suggesting that the effects were not universal and depended on the circumstances and contexts of children, adolescents and families. The researchers say the overall effect is likely to be large due to an increase in demand for services.
The pandemic has impacted the lives of children and young people around the world, and we’ve heard a lot about the impact on mental health. Our review of research in this area provides further evidence that services that are already busy are likely to see increased demand, but perhaps things aren’t as bad for everyone as some headlines make them seem. However, a small average change in mental health symptoms for each child can mean that, at the societal level, large numbers of children need professional support to be treated properly. Children and young people should be a priority in the recovery from the pandemic and should be specifically considered when planning future pandemic response.”
dr Tamsin Newlove-Delgado, study author, University of Exeter
The researchers found some evidence of deterioration in a number of general mental health measures, such as: B. an increase in general problems with behavior, emotions or anxiety, as well as a large number of studies finding no change and some no improvement in mental health. reporting improvements. ,
The paper highlights that interpreting research in this area is particularly difficult because mental health problems are developmentally more common in adolescence than in childhood. This makes it difficult to assess to what extent the observed negative effects are due to the age of the children in the study or are actually related to the pandemic.
Co-author Professor Tamsin Ford of the University of Cambridge said: “Studying the entire population of children and young people means our research may not pick up differences between groups who may be better off or worse off during the pandemic. Example for. , other research has found that some children and young people reported sleeping and eating better during lockdown, or that distance learning was more accessible because they were able to work at their own pace. Others reported a lack of structure or struggled with a lack of access to distance learning or equivalent education.”
The study author Dr. Abigail Russell of the University of Exeter said: “The race for answers during the pandemic meant that a lot of research was quickly being conducted using opportunistic sampling, such as asking people in online surveys how they perceived their child’s mental state.” Health has been affected by the epidemic. Unfortunately, this means that the overall quality of the research is quite poor, and even the studies we included in our review with pre-pandemic information were not of very high quality overall. was.
“This may be partly due to pressure to quickly release research on the pandemic and its impact. As a research community, we need to make our young people struggling with their mental health better. to understand them and their impact.” Families to receive targeted support when needed. In the longer term, researchers, funders and policymakers need to adopt a more coherent approach to supporting and conducting quality research.”
This study was published in The Impact of Kovid-19 on Psychopathology in Children and Young People Worldwide: Systematic Review of Studies with Pre-and-in-Pandemic Data. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry,