Parent and child mental health trajectories April 2020 to May 2021: Strict lockdown versus no lockdown in Australia

Westrupp, Elizabeth M., Greenwood, Christopher J., Fuller-Tyszkiewicz, Matthew, Olsson, Craig A., Sciberras, Emma, Mikocka-Walus, Antonina, Melvin, Glenn A., Evans, Subhadra, Stokes, Mark A., Wood, Amanda G., Karantzas, Gery C., Macdonald, Jacqui A., Toumbourou, John W., Teague, Samantha J., Fernando, Julian W., Berkowitz, Tomer S., Ling, Mathew, and Youssef, George J. (2022) Parent and child mental health trajectories April 2020 to May 2021: Strict lockdown versus no lockdown in Australia. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. (In Press)

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Objective: To control a second-wave COVID-19 outbreak, the state of Victoria in Australia experienced one of the world’s first long and strict lockdowns over July–October 2020, while the rest of Australia experienced ‘COVID-normal’ with minimal restrictions. We (1) investigate trajectories of parent/child mental health outcomes in Victoria vs non-Victoria and (2) identify baseline demographic, individual and COVID-19-related factors associated with mental health trajectories.

Methods: Online community sample of 2004 Australian parents with rapid repeated assessment over 14 time-points over April 2020 to May 2021. Measures assessed parent mental health (Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scales-21), child depression symptoms (13-item Short Mood and Feelings Questionnaire) and child anxiety symptoms (four items from Brief Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale).

Results: Mental health trajectories shadowed COVID-19 infection rates. Victorians reported a peak in mental health symptoms at the time of the second-wave lockdown compared to other states. Key baseline predictors, including parent and child loneliness (standardized regression coefficient [β] = 0.09–0.46), parent/child diagnoses (β = 0.07–0.21), couple conflict (β = 0.07–0.18) and COVID-19 stressors, such as worry/concern about COVID-19, illness and loss of job (β = 0.12–0.15), predicted elevated trajectories. Effects of predictors on parent and child mental health trajectories are illustrated in an online interactive app for readers (

Conclusion: Our findings provide evidence of worse trajectories of parent and child mental health symptoms at a time coinciding with a second COVID-19 outbreak involving strict lockdown in Victoria, compared to non-locked states in Australia. We identified several baseline factors that may be useful in detecting high-risk families who are likely to require additional support early on in future lockdowns.

Item ID: 73671
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1440-1614
Copyright Information: © The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists 2021
Funders: National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)
Projects and Grants: NHMRC Career Development Fellowship (1110688)
Date Deposited: 03 May 2022 01:36
FoR Codes: 52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5201 Applied and developmental psychology > 520101 Child and adolescent development @ 100%
SEO Codes: 20 HEALTH > 2005 Specific population health (excl. Indigenous health) > 200506 Neonatal and child health @ 100%
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