Impact of Social Determinants of Mental Health on Child and Parent Risk, Resilience and Support Access in the COVID‑19 Era: A Nested Mixed-Methods Study of Short and Long-Term Outcomes
Up until now, studies have suggested that 20% of Canadian children are impacted by a mental disorder. Social factors, such as an individual’s sex and gender, race/ethnicity/immigrant status, economic position, geographical location (e.g., northern/rural), exposure to violence and the MH status of their parents influence youth’s risk to, and resilience against, MH difficulties. These social factors also influence the extent to which children and parents can access support. The COVID‑19 pandemic has already been found to have additional negative impacts on the MH of Canadian families; however, we have not yet identified which social factors contribute the most to MH difficulties and treatment access during the pandemic and subsequent recovery. In response, our team developed a research study that asked youth, their parents and other adults about their MH experiences during the pandemic. Between November 2020 and July 2021, we achieved recruitment goals and obtained 3,351 baseline responses including data on 1,502 children/youth and 1,198 parents. Our results indicate that MH disorders including major depression, generalized anxiety disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder are affecting two to three times more individuals than has been estimated prior to the pandemic. Moreover, approximately one quarter of parents report needing, but not receiving, MH support for themselves or their children. The present study proposes to follow-up with individuals who completed the original survey and obtain more detailed information about their challenges, MH status, needs, care and support access during the pandemic, as well as social vulnerability and resilience factors. This will provide a perspective on change over time. As well, we will invite selected participants with identified vulnerabilities to poor MH outcomes to participate in focus groups and interviews that will allow us to collect more personal and detailed stories about Canadians’ experiences and challenges.