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Survey to explore pandemic's long-term effects on mental health of B.C. children, parents

Last Updated Feb 9, 2021 at 12:31 pm PST

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Researchers with UBC, SFU, and BC Children's Hospital have launched an online survey

Researchers hope to understand the long-term health impacts of COVID-19, on children and their families

Dr. S. Evelyn Stewart is the study co-lead and suspects more people are suffering during the era of COVID-19

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A number of B.C. based researchers are teaming up, launching an online survey they hope will help them better understand the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of children, and their parents.

The research is being led by UBC, SFU, and BC Children’s Hospital.

Dr. S. Evelyn Stewart is the study co-lead and says, she suspects more people are suffering during the era of COVID-19.

“I do have suspicions that there may be much higher than normal rates of psychiatric diagnoses such as depression or generalized anxiety disorder or even obsessive-compulsive disorder, and without doing surveys of this type, it’s very hard to know.”

She says a lot of research has been done on mental health during this pandemic, but few have actually focused on youth.

“So I think the voices of children and teens hasn’t really been heard,” Stewart explains.

She says, there’s a long-term focus here.

“Our goal is to understand how children, youth and adults have been impacted by the pandemic, and to follow that out over time, and in particular, to understand the resources that people have gone to, and especially those that are most helpful to them over time.”

Stewart says participants will check in with the survey once a month for up to a year.

The information will then be forwarded to BC’s Ministry of Health.

“I think it’s really huge, especially for teens and for young adults to give their perspective on things,” says Stewart. “Very often they’re living in a world where adults are making decisions,” she says.

Stewart expects within the next month a baseline report about how are people doing will be released, but they will continue to report results over time as the pandemic plays out.

“But that doesn’t mean those emotional and mental impacts will stop exactly at that same time [the pandemic ends] — which is why it’s so important for us to continue this overtime for months after things go back to ‘usual,'” she adds.

Clinical and community partners at BC Children’s, Ray-Cam Co-operative Centre and the YWCA are among those who are distributing the survey to families as part of a soft launch.

Researchers are hoping for a minimum of 3,000 respondents. It’s open to adults and children over seven years old, across the country, with the greatest focus on residents of B.C.