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April 27, 2022

In a very interesting recent article that appeared in the Harvard Gazette on April 21, attention is brought to the negative effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on childrens’ mental health.  The article appears to be focused on surveys done in 1999, 2004, and 2017 conducted in England.  Their general findings were that physical health of children and adults up to 24 years of age gradually improved over this period but yet they found a decline in mental health amongst those surveyed.  They even discuss some “statistically significant” findings of small increases in emotional disorders, especially depression and anxiety, all before the pandemic.  They also go into mentioning that in general a lack of studies on children was complicated by problems of conducting large-scale research during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Child psychiatric epidemiologist Tamsin Ford even said, ““All our statistical assumptions are based on having a probability sample.”

This is very insightful of the researchers to acknowledge the limitations of generalizability from a chosen sample of respondents, which was hard to obtain in large numbers during the pandemic.  It also calls to issue the lack of research on children and leans toward selection bias issues.  However, what is not called out are what instruments of assessment were used.  More detail would have been helpful.

After this nice but short discussion on statistics and sampling, the discussants then toss out a mish-mash of various other studies which have been conducted on children or teenagers, but no actual study results are given in detail nor statistical findings.  Some studies counteract each other in terms of their findings.  This again is probably linked to the items that were brought up earlier in the article that were brought up about lack of large research and discrepancies amongst chosen probability samples.

Written by,

Usha Govindarajulu


COVID-19, children, mental health, statistics, sampling



Clea, Simon (April 21, 2022) “Snapshot of pandemic’s mental health impact on children”.  Harvard Gazette.×600.jpg