This Rapid Evidence Review synthesises the research evidence from 32 studies on harms relating to the impact of lockdown and school closures on UK parents and carers, and aims to address what specific harms parents and carers have experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic and what potential mitigating factors may reduce the impact of these harms.
The review concludes that parents and carers have been disproportionately affected by school-closures with research evidence showing:
- Increases in mental health problems
- Financial struggles - including impacts on employability in specific sectors
- An increased risk of domestic violence within the home.
Existing gender inequalities and stereotypical gender roles in divisions of unpaid care work may have put women at a greater risk of poor mental health and loss of earnings. Mothers, single parents, ethnic minorities, parents with lower socioeconomic status (SES) and/or parents with children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) should be especially targeted for interventions.
Professor Cathy Creswell, Departments of Psychiatry and Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, said:
'The COVID-19 pandemic has brought substantial challenges for parents and carers of children and young people. Our review has highlighted the negative impacts on parents and carers both economically and in terms of their mental health, particularly for families who already faced disadvantages. Support for parents and carers will be critical as they face ongoing disruption and to support recovery beyond the pandemic.'
The Review's authors were: Dr Hope Christie (Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Edinburgh), Dr Lucy V Hiscox (Department of Psychology, University of Bath), Professor Cathy Creswell (Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford), Professor Sarah L Halligan (Department of Psychology, University of Bath). These authors were supported by review specialists Carol Vigurs and Dr Bridget Candy (EPPI-Centre).
The work was undertaken under the umbrella of the ESRC-funded International Public Policy Observatory (IPPO) and managed by the EPPI Centre, a specialist centre in the UCL Social Research Institute