Children’s psychological well-being worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic
Psychologically, children have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in different ways from adults and have a distinct set of worries. Researchers examined caregivers' perceptions of their children's wellbeing following stay-at-home orders and subsequent school closures. Participants were recruited from a sample of caregivers with children enrolled in Chicago's public schools. Key findings include the following:
• Caregivers noted significant increases in all mental health concerns following school closure, including agitation, anxiety, depression, and stress.
• Change in perception of student loneliness was most significant (reported by 31.9% of caregivers after closure, compared with 3.6% before closure).
• Caregiver concerns about suicidal ideation increased by 20%, from 0.5% before closure to 0.6% during closure.
Although not surprising, the pandemic and subsequent school closures have had a significant negative impact on children's well-being, particularly in homes where COVID-19 exposure was the greatest.
Because this study reports caregiver perceptions and was conducted only three months into the pandemic, it may not tell the entire story and may underreport the true mental health effects. We should anticipate and plan for increasing demand for support and access to mental health services for children and their families for some time.