Child Mental Health and Socioeconomic Hardship in the Time of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on racial and ethnic minority communities in the United States. Individuals in these communities are more likely to be hospitalized/die due to COVID-19 infection and to suffer from the psychosocial and financial repercussions of this global pandemic. There has been increased concern for racial and ethnic minority children due to challenges faced through school closures, social isolation, adverse effects of poverty, and other pandemic-related stressors. Research is needed to guide public health measures to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on diverse and urban communities. Additionally, a better understanding of the challenges faced by these communities will promote safety of these communities moving forward.

From September 2019 to January 2021, we conducted a longitudinal study to evaluate the psychosocial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on diverse, urban children between the ages of 5 and 11 years old. We compared data on mental health symptoms and access to social needs obtained pre-pandemic to during the pandemic. Findings suggest that children had higher levels of emotional and behavioral concerns mid pandemic- vs. pre-pandemic, including depression and anxiety symptoms, less school assignment completion, and increased screen time.  Read our article here.

In a second phase, we are recruiting caregivers to asses their attitudes and preferences toward the COVID-19 vaccine, including the impact of culture and background on vaccine perception, personal experiences with getting vaccinated, reasons for vaccine hesitancy and resistance, and how they obtained information about the vaccine. We hypothesize that racial and ethnic minority caregivers will be hesitant to vaccinate themselves and their children, and we expect that experiences of discrimination will predict vaccine hesitancy.

This study is funded by the National Institute of Health and Boston University Gennaro Acampora Junior Investigator Pilot Award.