Impact of social determinants of mental health on child and parent risk, resilience and support access in the COVID-19 era: A nested mixed-methods study of short and long-term outcomes

The study entitled, “Impact of social determinants of mental health on child and parent risk, resilience and support access in the COVID-19 era: A nested mixed-methods study of short and long-term outcomes” was funded by the CIHR Operating Grant: Understanding and mitigating the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on children, youth and families in Canada competition, in addition to Michael Smith Health Research BC funds. The project is pan-Canadian, but largely focused on BC participants.

Project co-leads include Evelyn Stewart MD and Hasina Samji PhD, who brought together their extensive collaborative networks. Dr. Stewart is a UBC professor, child and adolescent psychiatrist and Director of Research for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, BCCH. Dr. Samji is an epidemiologist, SFU assistant professor and senior scientist at BCCDC.

Between November 2020 and July 2021, the group collected baseline data for the Personal Impacts of COVID-19 Survey (PICS), a Canadian study identifying vulnerability factors to poor mental health related to preexisting medical and living conditions, sex/gender minorities and poverty. Based on our PICS baseline findings, which includes 3,351 Canadians, rates of several COVID-era mental illnesses were several-fold higher than expected; and one quarter of parents reported needing but not receiving mental health support.

Our mixed-methods study will build upon PICS findings by recontacting participants to better understand their pandemic-era mental health service access, future preferences and the role of social risk and resilience factors. It will also identify those with persisting, resolving and newly emerging mental illness during the COVID-19 recovery phase. In this way, our study will provide a current, comprehensive perspective on families’ experience of the COVID-19 pandemic and how services providers, community organizations and policymakers can best serve child and parent populations at highest risk for ongoing mental health impacts.

Funding competition: CIHR Operating Grant: Understanding and mitigating the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on children, youth and families in Canada

Funders: CIHR; Michael Smith Health Research BC