Challenging Times: UL researchers tackle youth mental health during COVID-19

COVID-19 and the resulting ‘lockdown life’ has led to major disruptions to the lives of young people and their families that threaten their wellbeing. A team of experts at the University of Limerick have launched a new study to explore how students aged 4 – 18 years and their families are coping during COVID-19 to identify what advice and support can protect their mental health during a period of rapidly evolving pressures.

The study entitled Co-SPACE (COVID-19 Supporting Parents, Adolescents and Children during Epidemics) is linked to a study of the same name in the UK being led by Professor Cathy Creswell and Dr Polly Waite of the Department of Psychiatry & Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford.

Researchers aim to track children and young people’s mental health throughout the COVID-19 crisis to identify what advice, support and help can actually protect their mental health. Dr Jennifer McMahon, who is a Lecturer in Psychology of Education, notes that ‘anecdotal reports suggest that many families and students are struggling with the restrictions imposed by COVID-19 and whilst general mental health supports are available there is a distinct lack of information about what type of supports could be most effective in the context of COVID-19.

The team hope to have over 1000 families/carers participate. The first survey will take about half an hour, and subsequent surveys about 15-20 minutes at monthly intervals. The questions are on a range of topics related to family life and relationships, overall health and wellbeing, parenting, education, psychological symptoms and how they and their child are coping during the Covid-19 pandemic. We are also interested in adolescents views and so if parents/carers have a child between 11-18 years there will be an option for them to take part also (once the parent/carer has completed the initial survey). Regular summaries of the research findings will be available at the research website

The study is a collaboration between the Teaching for Inclusion (i-TEACH) research lab led by Dr Jennifer McMahon and the Centre for Social Issues led by Professor Orla Muldoon. Other team members are Dr Sharon Houghton, Dr Elaine Gallagher, Dr Cliodhna O’Connor, Megan Ryan and Eibhlin Walsh.

If you are interested in completing the study find the link here:

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