Tracking the impact of Covid-19 on the mental health of children, young people and families; follow up of a national longitudinal probability sample

  • Funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
  • Total publications:16 publications

Grant number: MR/V027751/1

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Key facts

  • Disease

  • Start & end year

  • Known Financial Commitments (USD)

  • Funder

    UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
  • Principle Investigator

  • Research Location

    United Kingdom, Europe
  • Lead Research Institution

    University of Cambridge
  • Research Category

    Secondary impacts of disease, response & control measures

  • Research Subcategory

    Indirect health impacts

  • Special Interest Tags


  • Study Subject


  • Clinical Trial Details

    Not applicable

  • Broad Policy Alignment


  • Age Group

    Adolescent (13 years to 17 years)Adults (18 and older)Children (1 year to 12 years)

  • Vulnerable Population


  • Occupations of Interest



Children and young people's daily lives have been affected in many ways during the Covid-19 pandemic. Schools and colleges have closed to most children, while all have faced disruption to leisure activities and physical distancing from friends, family and community networks. The impact of the outbreak may be most severe for the groups who are already disadvantaged. Children and families needing help may have found it harder to access support during lockdown. Although there have been online surveys of children's mental health, we know that the most disadvantaged groups are less likely to take part in such studies, and we lack data on how children and young people were coping before lockdown. This means that we have a limited understanding of how different groups of children might be affected in the short and longer term. Information from a study that includes children from a wide range of backgrounds and is representative of the population is therefore needed in order to guide efforts to provide help for those affected, prevent longer term problems, and to better support children and families in the recovery from the pandemic, or during any future lockdowns or pandemic response. In this research, we will contact the parents, children and young people and families who took part in the national Mental Health of Children and Young People in England (MHCYP) survey 2017, and ask them to participate in three follow-up surveys, in July 2020, October 2020 and January 2021. The young people are now aged 5-22 years. The main aims of the research are: 1/ To track children's mental health and wellbeing over the course of the pandemic 2/ To identify groups of children whose mental health may have been most affected, 3/ To explore the factors which might increase the risk of problems, or protect against the development of mental health problems 4/ To report on changes in access to help and support for mental health concerns The surveys will ask about: child mental health and wellbeing, parent mental health, worries about coronavirus, impacts of coronavirus on the household (for example, employment and education), access to mental health help and support, and about the child or young person's daily life and activities. We will also invite some young people and families to take part in more detailed interviews about their experiences; the interview topics will depend partly on the findings of the surveys, and on the views and priorities of the young people, families, professionals and organisations working with us. Our team includes experts from the Office for National Statistics and NatCen Social Research who ran the previous national child mental health surveys, as well as from three universities (Cambridge, Exeter and Kings College London). We will be working closely with the Department for Health and Social Care, the Department for Education, and NHS England, as well as with charities and other groups working with children and families and running health, care and education services. We will also have an advisory panel of young people, parents, and professionals working in education, health and care. We will produce 'rapid reports' to help these groups and organisations plan and provide care and support for the children and families who need it most. For example, our findings may help in: identifying groups of children who might need additional support in any future lockdown or pandemic; or in planning services to meet specific needs such as increased levels of anxiety or trauma-related symptoms, and improved access to learning at home. We will work nationally and internationally with other researchers studying children's mental health and Covid-19, to help understand the mental health impacts on a global scale, and share our findings in academic journals and conferences. We will work with our advisory panel to develop blogs, videos

Publicationslinked via Europe PMC

Last Updated:38 minutes ago

View all publications at Europe PMC

Experiences of help-seeking from professional services for a child or young person's mental health concerns during the pandemic: A qualitative study.

Worrying post-pandemic trends in eating disorders and self-harm in adolescents.

Annual Research Review: The impact of Covid-19 on psychopathology in children and young people worldwide: systematic review of studies with pre- and within-pandemic data.

Digital access constraints predict worse mental health among adolescents during COVID-19.

The impact of mindfulness training in early adolescence on affective executive control, and on later mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic: a randomised controlled trial.

The challenges and opportunities of mental health data sharing in the UK.

Child mental health in England before and during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Mental health responses to the COVID-19 pandemic: a latent class trajectory analysis using longitudinal UK data.