A new study on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children’s mental health puts forward concrete recommendations to promote their well-being.
The study, entitled Favoriser la santé mentale des enfants de 5-12 ans durant la COVID-19 and funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), is based on a review of the scientific literature on children’s mental health and well-being in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as interviews with parents, aiming to keep recommendations well-grounded in the real-life context of families in Québec.
The research by Dr Chantal Camden and Dr Catherine Malboeuf-Hurtubise, respectively of the École de réadaptation de la Faculté de médecine et des sciences de la santé de l’Université de Sherbrooke and Bishop’s University’s Department of Psychology, and also both researchers at the Centre de recherche du CHUS du CIUSSS de l’Estrie — CHUS, favours maintaining a regular contact between children, their families and the education system, along with maintaining a daily routine and regular activities, as much as possible to promote youth mental health.
Another recommendation is to ensure those likely to interact with children on a daily basis such as teachers and mental health professionals, for instance, are well-equipped to know how to recognize signs of psychological distress. It is important for these persons to be able to identify vulnerable children and to react quickly, notably through the use of resources already offered online to support those children and their families. Specialized services must also be accessible if they are needed.
“The study also aimed to identify specific issues affecting children with neurodevelopmental disorders, living with a disability or a chronic health condition, which are at higher risk in the current context,” indicates Dr Camden. “It is crucial to ensure a continuum between the health and education systems, the community level and families in order to coordinate their respective actions to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on children.”
“Even with encouraging developments emerging on the horizon, the fact remains that we will have to manage the social consequences of a pandemic context for some time,” points out Dr Malboeuf-Hurtubise. “Now that specific useful actions have been validated, there remains the pressing need to implement them in real, everyday life for children’s well-being.”
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