The most recent report from the Co-SPACE study highlights that:
Emotional and restless/attention difficulties (and behaviour difficulties for primary school aged children) were consistently elevated among children and young people from low income households over a month of lockdown compared to those from higher income households, with around two and a half times as many children experiencing significant problems in low income households.
Parents and carers from low income households reported that their children (aged 4 to 16 years) had higher levels of emotional difficulties, such as feeling unhappy, worried, being clingy and experiencing physical symptoms associated with worry than those from higher income households. Their children were also more fidgety and restless and had greater difficulty paying attention. Those with younger, primary school aged children also reported that their children were experiencing higher levels of behaviour difficulties, including temper tantrums, arguments and not doing what they were being asked to do by adults than those from higher incomes.
Other findings were that children and young people from single and multiple adult households were generally found to have similar levels of emotional, behavioural and restless/attention difficulties. However, when looked at on their own, primary school aged children from single adult households were reported as having more emotional difficulties than those from multiple adult households.
The study also highlighted that over the course of lockdown, there were increases for children of primary school age in emotional difficulties, behavioural difficulties and restlessness and attention difficulties, with the proportion of children having significant (clinical level) difficulties, increasing by as much as 35%. However, in young people of secondary school age, there was a reduction in emotional difficulties, no change in behavioural difficulties and a slight increase in restlessness/inattention.
More than 11,500 parents have now taken part in the Co-SPACE (COVID-19 Supporting Parents, Adolescents, and Children in Epidemics) survey led by experts at the University of Oxford. Crucially, the study is continuing the collect data in order to determine whether this has changed as school re-open and many children return to the classroom.
The Co-SPACE (COVID-19 Supporting Parents, Adolescents, and Children in Epidemics) survey is still open and keen for parents and carers to share their experiences www.cospaceoxford.com/survey, especially at this crucial time of schools re-opening and many children returning to school. This research is tracking children and young people’s mental health throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Survey results are helping researchers identify what protects children and young people from deteriorating mental health, over time, and at particular stress points, and how this may vary according to child and family characteristics. This will help to identify what advice, support and help parents would find most useful.
This research is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as part of the UK Research and Innovation’s rapid response to COVID-19 and the Westminster Foundation, and supported by the NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre, the Oxford and Thames Valley NIHR Applied Research Consortium and the UKRI Emerging Minds Network Plus.