Most Quebec parents find children’s mental health impacted by coronavirus crisis: survey

People take a walk in Mount Royal park in Montreal, Saturday, March 21, 2020, as COVID-19 cases rise in Canada and around the world. Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

A majority of Quebec parents believe that students should not be heading back to school before September, and 56 per cent say the mental health of their children has deteriorated since the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

These are two of the findings of a CROP survey carried out on behalf of the Jasmin Roy Sophie Desmarais Foundation on the “physical, behavioural, psychological and emotional deterioration” of Quebecers.

The Quebec government has not yet revealed when schools will reopen, but the survey found that 57 per cent of respondents said it shouldn’t happen before the month of September.

READ MORE: Our mental health won’t be the same after coronavirus pandemic, experts say

A return to class in the coming weeks also led to feelings of anxiety among 67 per cent of parents surveyed.

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The poll found that only a quarter of parents, or 27 per cent, believe that children should return to school on May 4.

The survey also found that the mental health of Quebecers has declined since the start of the health crisis.

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As many as 83 per cent of adults surveyed say they feel worried and insecure, 77 per cent say they feel sad and 71 per cent say they have trouble sleeping.

Parents report that children are feeling lonely

Adults are not alone in feeling mental distress, based on the response from parents who participated in the poll.

A total of 56 per cent of parents say the psychological and emotional state of their child has deteriorated since the start of the pandemic.

The poll found that the feeling of loneliness is the biggest impact on their children’s mental health, according to 42 per cent of parents surveyed.

One-third of parents, or 31 per cent, pointed to feelings of worry and frustration as taking a major toll their child’s mental health.

Click to play video: 'COVID-19 and your mental health'
COVID-19 and your mental health

Half of the respondents said that their child’s behaviour has devolved since the start of the pandemic, while one in four parents found their child had developed a “negative outlook on everyday things or events.”

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“If children are experiencing anxiety and they are not willing to learn, it will be very difficult to send them to school without having a strategy to manage their anxiety,” said Jasmin Roy, president of the foundation that bears his name, in an interview with the Canadian Press.

He proposed that a “kit be created which is aimed as much at parents, teachers, adolescents and children on emotional management in times of isolation and de-isolation.”

READ MORE: For people with OCD and illness anxiety, the coronavirus outbreak is a ‘worst-case scenario’

“Our foundation intends to be a leading partner in improving the emotional and relational health of Quebecers, and particularly that of children and adolescents,” said Roy.

The CROP survey was conducted online among 1,408 Quebecers aged 18 and over from April 17 to 20. No margin of error was established for the poll.

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