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Study examines children's mental health during COVID-19

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Windsor-Essex children is the focus of a new study.

The University of Windsor's psychology department has teamed up with the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and Virginia Commonwealth University to conduct an online study of the effects of COVID-19 on young people in the Windsor-Essex region.

Dr. Lance Rappaport, assistant professor of psychology at U of W, said the study would identify the long-term effects of the pandemic on area youth.

"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," said Rappaport. "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."

Rappaport added that the study would also identify resources at both public and individual levels to address the widespread mental health effects that commonly follow global disasters. He also suggested that there are children who are particularly vulnerable to disruptions in routine, acute uncertainty, and illness or death of loved ones.

The study is open to Windsor-Essex children aged nine to 13, as well as their parents. Participants will be asked to fill in a 30-minute questionnaire on how their child has been feeling, as well as what effects the pandemic has had. Next, each month for six months, July through December, and in March 2021, participants will fill in a follow-up questionnaire covering the same topics.

Each family will receive a $12 electronic gift card for the initial questionnaire, plus a $9 electronic gift card for each of the seven follow-up questionnaires.

Complete information on the study and participating can be found at Anxiety Lab.

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