WINDSOR, ONT. -- Children and parents in Southwestern Ontario have reported higher anxiety and increased distress since the COVID-19 pandemic, according to study.

Local researchers have published their initial findings on the acute impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the region. The research project was initially funded through the University of Windsor’s Officer of the Vice-President of Research and Innovation and WE-SPARK Health Institute.

“These results demonstrate the need to expand the research efforts to help mitigate the impact of the pandemic on our children” Dr. Lance Rappaport, the lead investigator said in a news release. “We are excited and grateful for the additional support from the provincial government.”

The findings of the study also include:

  • Children and parents reported increased distress and decreased well-being such as loneliness and unhappiness;
  • Children and parents reported higher anxiety and depression, and parents reported higher irritability; and
  • Children’s perception that social support is available from family and friends was associated with lower symptoms of generalized anxiety, depression, irritability, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The study has now been awarded one of eight new research projects funded by the Ontario government to extend the work to a larger area of Southwestern Ontario.

University of Windsor students, The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics at Virginia Commonwealth University are included among the authors of the study.

The research results will help to inform the development and deployment of mental health resources for children in Windsor-Essex and across Southwestern Ontario, the release states.