Understanding and mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of parents and caregivers of children and youth with support needs in British Columbia

This Child, Youth & Family Mental Health Impact Grant is co-funded through a partnership between Mental Health Research Canada, Michael Smith Health Research BC, and the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development.

While COVID-19 has affected the mental health of all Canadians, those with complex family needs have struggled even more. The strain is especially great on parents and caregivers of children and youth with support needs experiencing (or at risk of) developmental delay or disability.

Research studies about the impact of the pandemic on parental mental health tend to view parents of children with support needs as a homogenous group, or they tend to explore separate diagnostic categories (such as Autism Spectrum Disorder and medical complexity).

Lead investigators Dr. Jennifer Baumbusch and Angela Clancy will not replicate existing studies but will extend what is currently known, particularly in the context of British Columbia.

The investigators and their team will compare mental health impacts with a larger pan-Canadian sample. They will also compare mental health impacts within the sample of parents of children with support needs based on diagnostic categories, individual factors of parent and child (such as gender, age, race, ethnicity, education, family structure and household income), and community factors (such as geographic location and size of community) — and compare between these categories.

The goal is to identify specific strengths and vulnerabilities of different sub-groups that can be used to customize supports.

The BC research team will also explore existing knowledge about programs (such as peer-to-peer and one-on-one counselling) and promising practices (such as virtual/tele-health and enhanced respite) that help mitigate mental health impacts and foster family resilience.


Progress Update – March 2022

Lead investigators Dr. Jennifer Baumbusch and Angela Clancy, together with Chelsea Jokisch, a patient with lived experience, share their key discoveries and insights so far, in this webinar hosted by Mental Health Research Canada.