Pandemic Fueling Mental Health Issues in Families

Many families were abruptly isolated at home when the COVID-19 outbreak broke out more than a year ago. A year later, a new study has linked this period to a wide range of negative consequences on well-being and functioning.

Parents claimed their children were having considerably greater levels of “internalizing” problems like sadness and anxiety, as well as “externalizing” problems like disruptive and violent conduct, in the initial months of the pandemic, according to a Penn State study. Parents also reported having substantially higher levels of sadness and a lower quality of co-parenting with their partners.

According to Mark Feinberg, a Penn State research professor of health and human development, the findings published in Family Process reveal how damaging periods of family and social stress can be for parents and children and the importance of a good co-parenting relationship for family well-being.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Dr. Feinberg said, it caused not just financial hardship in families but also challenged connected to being secluded together, issues managing work and childcare, and overall concern about the sudden and little understood health threat.

The researchers used data from 129 households, with an average of 2.3 children per family, including 122 mothers and 84 fathers. The researchers discovered that parents were 2.4 times more likely than before to report “clinically significant” high levels of depression after the pandemic. They were also 2.5 and 4 times more likely to report externalizing and internalizing issues in their children at levels high enough to require professional care.

“In our discipline, the size of these changes is regarded quite substantial and is rarely seen,” she said. “Not only did we see general shifts, but we also noticed an increase in the number of parents and children in the clinical range for depression and behavior issues, indicating that they were likely suffering from a diagnosable condition and would benefit from treatment.”

Dr. Feinberg put the magnitude of the reductions in parent and child well-being into perspective by pointing out that in the initial months of the epidemic, the increase in parents’ levels of depressive symptoms was roughly twice as large as the average benefit of antidepressants.

Several articles in this Mental Health emphasis issue, including the continuing education lesson “Addressing Mental and Physical Health in Vulnerable Patients During the COVID-19 Pandemic” on page 47, look at the impact of COVID-19 on psychological functioning. Also, on page 28, an article titled “Challenges in Community Pharmacy During COVID-19: The Perfect Storm for Personnel Burnout” looks at the impact of the pandemic on pharmacists in the community.

What Are the Different Types of Mental Illnesses?

Mental health issues can take many forms, and symptoms often overlap, making diagnosis difficult. There are, however, a few illnesses that afflict persons of all ages.

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a type of attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD)

The difficulty to stay focused on a task, impulsive conduct, and excessive activity or inability to sit still are all symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. This illness is most typically diagnosed in youngsters, but it can also affect adults.

Panic Disorder/Anxiety

Anxiety disorder is characterized by attacks of acute anxiety of something bad happening or a sense of impending doom that occur regularly.

Bipolar Illness

Bipolar disorder is characterized by a cycle of manic and depressed mood states. Periods of high activity and heightened emotions characterize manic episodes, whereas lethargy and despair characterize depression stages. The bikes are not always instantaneous.


Depression refers to a group of symptoms that include a chronic low mood, a lack of interest in daily activities, and periods of lethargy and exhaustion. Dysthymia is a milder form of depression that lasts longer.


She was hearing voices or having multiple personalities are not the only symptoms of schizophrenia, contrary to popular belief. Rather, it is defined by an inability to discriminate between truth and fantasy. Paranoia and belief in complex conspiracies are common symptoms of schizophrenia.

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