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Rapid responses to understand and address children and young people’s mental health in the context of COVID-19

In this Editorial Perspective for the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Professor Cathy Creswell draws on current research to summarise how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the mental health of children and young people. Some key points include:

  • Mental health problems seem to have increased since the beginning of the pandemic, especially in primary school-aged children.
  • Studies comparing pre-pandemic with mid-pandemic mental health data have reported mixed findings, but these results might be influenced by sample characteristics, timing of assessments and developmental changes.
  • The Co-SPACE study offers insight into the patterns of change over time and how this has differed by group:
      • Findings show that low family-income and the presence of special educational needs/neurodevelopmental disorders among children are associated with elevated mental health symptoms throughout the pandemic; and,
      • Primary-school children also exhibited pronounced increases in mental health symptoms at times of peak restriction.
  • Although the pandemic has presented significant challenges in accessing mental health support, a number of trials are underway to develop evidence-informed, accessible solutions.

Read the full editorial here.