A new research survey, launched at the University of Oxford, is to track children and young people’s mental health throughout the Covid-19 pandemic to identify what advice, support and help can protect their mental health.

This survey, called Covid-19 Supporting Parents, Adolescents, and Children in Epidemics (Co-SPACE) will help researchers identify what protects children and young people from deteriorating mental health, over time, and at particular stress points, and how this may vary according to child and family characteristics.

It also aims to identify what advice, support and help parents would find most useful.

Parents and carers will be invited to complete an online longitudinal weekly questionnaire for a month, then fortnightly for a month, and then monthly until schools reopen.

The first survey will ask parents and carers questions about family life and relationships, overall health and wellbeing, parenting, psychological symptoms and how they and their children are coping during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Regular summaries of key findings will be made available via the UK Research and Innovation emergingminds.org.uk research network website throughout the study and will be shared directly with partner organisations in health and education services and the community and voluntary sector, to inform the development of effective support for children, young people and families.

This research is supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre, the Oxford and Thames Valley NIHR Applied Research Consortium, and the UKRI Emerging Minds Network Plus.

Cathy Creswell, professor of psychiatry and experimental psychology at the University of Oxford, said: “Research has provided valuable information about how parents and carers can support their children’s mental health in general. However, at this point, we know very little about what might be most effective in the current context of Covid-19.”

She added: “We hope to have more than 10,000 parents and carers across the UK complete the new online survey. Their responses will help us really understand how families are coping and what support could make all the difference to children, young people and their families at this time.”