COVID-19 tied to poor parent and child mental health

Sept. 8, 2020

Parent and child well-being have taken serious hits during the COVID-19 pandemic, studies published in Pediatrics show, according to a news report from the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota.

The first of three studies consisted of collecting survey data on daily moods from 645 hourly service workers with children 2 to 7 years old in large U.S. cities from February 20 to April 27. The researchers also analyzed data from 561 subsample survey respondents collected from March 23 to April 26.

The frequency of daily negative moods among both parents and children increased significantly during pandemic-related lockdowns, especially in those with crisis-related hardships such as job and income loss, caregiving burdens, and illness. Of all families, only 14 percent reported no hardships during the pandemic, while most had at least two.

Before lockdowns, parents reported negative mood some of the time on 30 percent of days and all day on 7 percent of days; amid lockdowns, the proportion reporting negative mood some of the time rose to 33 percent of days, and the share of those reporting all-day negative mood increased to 9 percent of days.

Parents who reported poor sleep quality during lockdowns continued to experience it after restrictions were eased. While the frequency of children's unruly behavior and worry did not change substantially during this time, the trend was toward increasing frequency of both. Most respondents were women, and respondents had a mean age of 31 years and average education level of high school. Half were black, and about one-fifth were Hispanic. Mean income was $26,868 a year.

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