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Lance RappaportPsychology professor Lance Rappaport is leading a study of the impact the COVID-19 crisis is having on the mental health of local children.

Researchers studying the impact of COVID-19 on mental health of children in Windsor-Essex

What is the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the mental health of children in the Windsor-Essex area?

A team of researchers in the Department of Psychology in partnership with the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and Virginia Commonwealth University, is conducting an online longitudinal study to find out.

“Beyond the immediate impact of the virus itself, the global COVID-19 pandemic poses significant risks to public mental health that will persist long after the pandemic has subsided,” says Lance Rappaport, UWindsor assistant professor of psychology.

“Research on other large-scale traumas, such as natural disasters, documented extensive anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress. Most prior research has focused on adult mental health. The limited youth research indicates similar or worse outcomes among children whose safety, health, and psychological well-being depend on the safety and well-being of parents and caregivers.”

Dr. Rappaport says there is an urgent need to identify resources at both public and individual levels to mitigate the widespread mental health consequences that commonly follow global disasters, particularly to safeguard the mental health of children who are particularly vulnerable to disruptions in routine, acute uncertainty, and illness or death of loved ones.

Children between the ages of 9 and 13 and their parents are invited to take part in the study. Each will complete a 30-minute questionnaire about how their child has been feeling and what kinds of things he or she has been doing during the COVID-19 crisis.

Then each month for six months (July through December) — and once in March 2021 — both will receive follow-up questionnaires about the same topics that will take about 20 minutes per person to complete. Each family will receive a $12 electronic gift card for completing the first set of questionnaires and a $9 electronic gift card for each of seven follow-up questionnaires.

The results of the research will inform the development and deployment of mental health resources for children in Windsor-Essex.

For information and to participate in the study, visit www.anxietylab.ca/research.

The research is funded through UWindsor’s Office of the Vice-President of Research and Innovation and the WE-Spark Health Institute, a research partnership involving the University of Windsor, Windsor Regional Hospital, Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, and St. Clair College. It is one of 21 local COVID-related research projects WE-Spark is supporting through its COVID-19 Rapid Response grant program.