The first comprehensive study to evaluate research on the mental health of children and young people using evidence from before and during COVID-19 has found an impact on mental health that could result in increased demand for support services.
The research, led by the University of Exeter and the University of Cambridge, is the first to examine what research has to offer about young people’s mental health before and during the pandemic. The study provides more insight into changes in the mental health of children and young people of different ages around the world during the pandemic.
The study has been published 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 pulled together 51 studies that looked at how the pandemic affected young people’s mental health across a range of domains. Importantly, these studies included information on baseline mental health collected before the pandemic, rather than relying on retrospective perceptions of change.
The demand for fast-paced research amid the emerging pandemic meant that the standard of studies was variable, with only four studies classified as high quality.
While the evidence suggested some decline for some aspects of mental health, overall, the findings were mixed, with no clear pattern emerging. There were mixed findings from studies that measured the same type of mental health difficulty in different ways, suggesting that the effects were not universal and depended on the circumstances and contexts of children, young people and families. The researchers say the overall effect is likely to be large as a result of an increase in demand for services.
The pandemic has affected 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 the area provides further evidence that already stretched services are likely to see an increase in demand, but perhaps things are not as bad for everyone as some headlines make them seem. However, a small average change in mental health symptoms for each child may mean that, at a societal level, a large number of children need some professional support from being properly managed. Children and youth should be a priority in the recovery from the pandemic, and should be explicitly considered in planning for any future pandemic response.”
Dr Tamsin Newlove-Delgado, study author, University of Exeter
The researchers found some evidence of declines in a range of broad measures of mental health, such as increases in overall problems with behaviour, emotions or anxiety, as well as finding a large number of studies that found no change and few in mental health. Reporting improvements. ,
The paper highlights that it is particularly difficult to interpret research in this area, as mental health problems appear to be more common in adolescence than in childhood. This makes it difficult to assess the extent to which the negative effects found are a result of the children in the study being older or are actually related to the epidemic.
Co-author Professor Tamsin Ford, from the University of Cambridge, said: “Studying the whole population of children and young people means our research may not pick up on differences between groups who may be doing better or worse during the pandemic. Example For. , other research has found that some children and young people reported sleeping and eating better during lockdown, or found remote schooling easier to access because they could work at their own pace. Others reported a lack of structure or were struggling with a lack of access to remote schooling or equivalents.”
University of Exeter study author Dr. Abigail Russell said: “The race for answers during the pandemic meant that a lot of the research was done quickly using opportunistic sampling, for example by asking people in online surveys how they perceived their child’s mental state think.” Health was affected by the epidemic. Unfortunately, this means that the quality of the research overall is quite poor, and even the studies we included in our review with information from before the pandemic were not of very high quality overall. Were.
“This may be partly due to the pressure to quickly publish research about the pandemic and its effects. As a research community, we need to do better by our young people who struggle with their mental health. in order to understand them and their influence.” Families to target support where needed. In the longer term, researchers, funders and policy makers must adopt a more cohesive approach to supporting and conducting high-quality research.”
This study is 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,