Science

Covid-19: 4 questions about the first major child mental health study

Eating disorders, refusal to go to school, social phobia, depression… Has the Covid-19 epidemic worsened children’s mental health? Two years after the start of the pandemic, it is still difficult to measure the extent of its impact. If studies have already been conducted in adolescents and adults, then the youngest have not yet.

Therefore, French Public Health is launching from this Monday, May 2, “with the support of the ministries responsible for health and national education and the actors working with children and youth”, a major national study called Enabee. It will be held before the school holidays with the participation of more than 30,000 children aged 3 to 11 years.

Why do such a study? How to participate and what will it be used for? We will explain everything to you.

Why do such a study?

“The health crisis has impacted the mental health of the youngest and demonstrated the need for care and prevention action based on solid evidence. For this, it is important to have indicators,” Genevieve Chen, Director General of Public Health France, explains in the preamble in a press release.

However, data on the well-being of young children aged 3 to 11 are “today non-existent or still very fragmented,” points out Public Health France. Thus, the survey, whose results will be anonymous, will aim to provide an “overview of children’s well-being”, “to measure and describe various aspects of well-being and difficulties encountered, and to identify circumstances”. , determinants and impact on the quality of life of children”.

Who is concerned?

This is the strength of this study: some 30,000 older children will be directly interviewed. 600 schools were randomly selected to participate. From CP, students will be asked to fill out an age-appropriate questionnaire on a tablet. Health, difficulties and living conditions will be emphasized.

After agreeing to participate, and for a “fair” assessment, teachers and the parent living with the child will also be interviewed. They will be given a 30-minute questionnaire online or by phone. For children in kindergarten, “only parents and teachers will be interviewed,” says Public Health France.

How will it unfold?

The experiment was first launched in January 2022 in four randomly selected departments. The national survey starts this Monday 2 and will run until the school holidays. An information letter will be sent to all those selected to participate.

From the CP, researchers authorized by the Ipsos Institute, the service provider responsible for operational implementation, will arrive for class at approximately 1 hour 30 minutes.

The first results for mainland France are expected by the end of 2022. But the study, “supposed to be repeated at regular intervals,” is aimed at French public health. The implementation of the study in foreign departments and regions is scheduled for 2023.

Do what ?

The study will not allow for individual diagnosis or identification of children who may have difficulties. “The data will be analyzed at the national and regional levels, not at the level of schools and children,” recalls Nolwenn Regnault, head of the perinatal department of early childhood at the French Ministry of Health.

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The aim of the study is to obtain regular health indicators for children aged 3 to 11 years to “guide, promote preventive action and best tailor child care and follow-up,” the national public health agency said in a statement.

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