FILE – Five year-old Nancy Murphy wears a full mask and face shield as she waits in line for her kindergarten class to enter the school at Portage Trail Community School which is part of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Tuesday, September 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

FILE – Five year-old Nancy Murphy wears a full mask and face shield as she waits in line for her kindergarten class to enter the school at Portage Trail Community School which is part of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Tuesday, September 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

‘Their voice really matters’: Survey asks for input from B.C. youth on COVID’s effects

Researcher say they hope this work can affect policy changes

As the pandemic enters its second year, many people are feeling a sense of hopelessness and seeing their mental health decline.

But one group that hasn’t been heard from, said Dr. Hasina Samji, affliate investigator at BC Children’s Hospital, is children.

“There have been a lot of discussions how school closures could be good, could be bad, but have we actually asked young people how they’re doing?” asked Samji, who is also an assistant professor with SFU’s faculty of health sciences and a senior scientist at the BC Centre for Disease Control.

The data that’s come out so far has been conflicting, she added.

“Part of that is because a lot of the research to date is cross-sectional, so they do surveys at one point in time. What’s really unique about our work… is that our study is longitudinal, so we invite people to participate and then follow them over time,” Samji said.

“As we know, the pandemic is changing and so are feelings and thoughts about it.”

Many of the effects people are feeling are cumulative.

“In the beginning we might have been running on some adrenaline,” she said. “As we know, the winter is never a good time for mental health and wellbeing in general, and then compounded with some of the impacts of the pandemic we anticipate this is going to result in some adverse impacts for people.

The survey, a partnership between BC Children’s Hospital, the University of British Columbia and SFU, is looking for kids and youth over the age of seven. Participants will be asked to fill in a 20-30 minute only survey about their experiences.

Researchers are particularly keen to hear from a variety of groups, especially those underrepresented in the data overall. Samji said the project is reaching out to people living in rural and remote communities, Indigenous peoples across the entire province and working with groups on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

“Their voice really matters,” she said. “By them taking the time, and we acknowledge that it does take a half-hour of time, they can give their experience a voice and hopefully help create that support.”

For more information, visit www.bcchr.ca/news/survey-seeks-learn-about-mental-health-impacts-covid-19-children-youth-and-adults.

ALSO READ: For B.C. seniors in care, it’s been nearly a year of isolation to combat COVID-19 outbreaks


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