The ongoing disruptive changes from efforts to reduce the spread of Covid-19 are having a substantial negative impact on the physical and mental well-being of parents and their children, say researchers.
Families are particularly affected by stressors stemming from changes in work, school and daycare schedules that are impacting finances and access to community support networks, according to the survey of parents across the US, published in the journal Pediatrics.
“Covid-19 and measures to control its spread have had a substantial effect on the nation’s children,” said study researcher Stephen Patrick from the Children’s Hospital in the US.
“Today, an increasing number of the nation’s children are going hungry, losing insurance employer-sponsored insurance and their regular child care. The situation is urgent and requires immediate attention from federal and state policymakers,” Patrick added.
Parents with children under age 18 were surveyed to measure changes in their health, insurance status, food security, use of public food assistance resources, child care and use of health care services since the Covid-19 pandemic began.The survey revealed that 27 per cent of parents reported worsening mental health for themselves, while 14 per cent reported worsening behavioural health for their children.
The findings also showed that 24 per cent of parents reported a loss of regular child care.
According to the study, the impact of abrupt, systemic changes to employment and strain from having access to a limited social network is disrupting the core of families across the country.
Worsening physical and mental health were similar no matter the person’s race, ethnicity, income, education status or location.
However, larger declines in mental well-being were reported by women and unmarried parents, the study said.
Since March, more families are reporting food insecurity, and more reliance on food banks, and delaying children’s visits to health care providers.
With Covid-19 cases and deaths on the rise around the country, families may continue to experience higher levels of need and disruption.
The study found that families with young children report worse mental health than those with older children.”The loss of regular child care related to Coivd-19 has been a major shock to many families,” the study authors noted.