A POSTnote describing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children's mental health. This briefing summarises the latest understanding from research about the effects on children throughout the pandemic, and the factors that increase vulnerability to poor mental health. It also reviews policy approaches that seek to protect children's mental health, with particular focus on recent initiatives to address this.
- Over 1,100 experts have responded to a COVID-19 survey by POST’s Knowledge Exchange Unit.
- Through the survey, experts shared their concerns about COVID-19 and COVID-impacted areas in the immediate and longer term future.
- Researchers have also shared what further data or information they would like to see the Government release to understand the decisions that underpin its approach.
- This first report outlines the survey methodology. Detailed reports with concerns on specific areas such as trade, education, and public health will be published in the coming days.
- You can find all our horizon scanning work on COVID-19 here.
In March 2020, the Knowledge Exchange Unit in POST launched the COVID-19 outbreak expert database. It invited anyone who wanted to support UK Parliament in its work and had expertise in COVID-19 and/or its impacts to sign up. POST then sent an online survey to all the experts signed up to the COVID-19 expert database. Over 1,100 experts responded to the survey. The survey asked these experts four key questions:
- As an expert, what is the most important concern you have relating to the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak within the next 3 months? (Short-term concerns)
- As an expert, what is the most important concern you have relating to the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak in the next 3 to 9 months? (Medium-term concerns)
- As an expert, what is the most important concern you have relating to the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak beyond the next 9 months? (Long-term concerns)
- The UK Government has released some of the scientific evidence they used to develop their approach to the COVID-19 outbreak. What further data or information would you like to see the Government release in order to understand the decisions that underpin its approach?
Responses submitted between the 3 and the 30 of April have been analysed and synthesised, as part of POST’s horizon scanning work. POST will be publishing 15 reports about the short, medium and long-term concerns experts have in the following areas (the list will be updated as our findings are published):
- Economy and finance
- Business and trade
- Work and employment
- Virology, immunology and epidemiology
- Research and innovation
- Health and social care system
- Public health
- International affairs
- Law and human rights
- Society and community
- Media and communications
- Crime, justice and policing
These reports have been produced using two forms of analysis. Dr Rowena Bermingham (POST, UK Parliament) conducted thematic analysis on the data. Thematic analysis identifies, analyses and interprets patterns within data. This involved reading the responses and identifying topics and ideas that came up repeatedly. Responses were then sorted into general categories before being re-analysed to identify sub-categories.
These categories and sub-categories have been used as the titles of the reports and the sub-headings within them. The content included in the report is a summary of the main topics raised in the survey responses. David Ralph and Dr Yunjia Li (University of Southampton) performed computational analysis on the data. They used algorithms similar to those used by online search engines to identify survey responses in each category that best represented the general theme of the data. Examples of these ‘most typical’ questions have been included alongside the topic summaries.
All researchers who contributed to this survey are listed under Acknowledgements.
You can find rapid response content from POST on COVID-19 here.
As the UK COVID-19 immunisation programme reaches all adults, the Government has announced an update to its policy on using a COVID-19 vaccine in children. So, how does COVID-19 affect children? What will the impact of vaccinating children be on preventing disease and minimising associated risks? And what do we know about public attitudes to using COVID-19 vaccines in children?
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is a significant public health concern, with a growing body of research describing the effects on the population since March 2020. This POSTnote summarises the key findings from research, highlights the groups most affected and their mental health outcomes, and the limitations of current knowledge. It also discusses policy approaches to protect mental health and how healthcare services can adapt to improve outcomes.