Leveraging a Longitudinal Canadian Cohort to Study the Course of Parent-Youth Mental Health Before, During, and After the COVID‑19 Pandemic
The past year has been an extraordinarily challenging time for families coping with ongoing changes and disruptions due to COVID-19. Unfortunately, stress, unpredictability, and disruptions can catalyze mental illness. Cross-sectional studies show that rates of anxiety and depression are on the rise during COVID-19, particularly in parents and youth. What is unknown is whether these rates will be maintained once COVID‑19 disruptions have attenuated. In addition, there is no research showing how these increased rates correspond to health service utilization. High-quality, contemporary data on how parents and youth are independently and collectively coping with, and recovering from, the pandemic is crucial to inform the allocation of scarce mental health resources. Our study will provide this information. The All Our Families (AOF) study, a pregnancy cohort in Calgary that started in 2008 and has followed families over time, has surveyed mothers and youth (now aged 9-11 years) three times during the pandemic. We now seek to survey families in the recovery phase of COVID‑19 in February of 2022 to examine the longitudinal trajectories and co-development of parent and youth depression and anxiety prior to, during, and in the aftermath of the pandemic. We aim to link cohort data to administrative mental health data to identify the patterns of diagnoses and health service utilization in the context of changing mental health symptoms. We aim to identify the patterns of risk and protective factors that have amplified and/or attenuated mental distress. This proposal provides an exceptional opportunity to identify who becomes most at risk based on both the structural determinants of health and personal/familial factors. Identification of the patterns of stability and change in mental health due to COVID-19, along with service utilization, can help inform decisions on resource allocation and prevention and intervention strategies to optimize mental health.