by Lisa Pao
Posted on June 24, 2021
The mental health of children and adolescents depends on many factors, but one of the most important indicators of how children are doing is the well-being of their primary caregivers, including parents, guardians, and other significant adults at home. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many stressors have negatively impacted parents’ well-being. If we want children to demonstrate resilience during times of stress, we must ensure that their parents have the support they need.
Over the next several months, we will be publishing a series of white papers based on findings from the High Achieving Schools Survey (HASS), our comprehensive assessment of mental health and well-being in relation to risk and protective factors at home and at school among students in grades 6-12. The first white paper, available now, details the aspects of family functioning most likely to be linked with resilience in adolescents.
Looking at data from over 4,000 students across the country assessed with the HASS during the pandemic, the AC team found that two areas of parent-child relationships were most strongly related to students’ depression and anxiety: students’ feelings that they were a disappointment to their parents and students’ perceptions of their parents themselves as being stressed or troubled. Additionally, AC found that levels of rule-breaking and substance use were higher among students who reported that their parents were bothersome or hovered excessively or that they didn’t have strong consequences for their children’s substance use. While symptoms were also higher for students who found their parents bothersome (nagging, etc.), there was little evidence to suggest that overt overprotectiveness or “helicoptering”, a behavior scapegoated in the media, was a major factor in students’ well-being.
The white paper also examines whether the links between parent relationship quality and student mental health differed by demographic characteristics, such as gender, race/ethnicity, and age/grade level, and discusses recommendations for schools and parents to consider as they seek to protect their childrens’ well-being during this time.
Read the White Paper →