Editors’ Note and Special Communication: Research Priorities in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Emerging From the COVID-19 Pandemic

Douglas K. Novins, Joel Stoddard, Robert R. Althoff, Alice Charach, Samuele Cortese, Kathryn Regan Cullen, Jean A. Frazier, Stephen J. Glatt, Schuyler W. Henderson, Ryan J. Herringa, Leslie Hulvershorn, Christian Kieling, Anne B. McBride, Elizabeth McCauley, Christel M. Middeldorp, Angela M. Reiersen, Carol M. Rockhill, Adam J. Sagot, Lawrence Scahill, Emily SimonoffS. Evelyn Stewart, Eva Szigethy, Jerome H. Taylor, Tonya White, Bonnie T. Zima

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Over the last year, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in profound disruptions across the globe, with school closures, social isolation, job loss, illness, and death affecting the lives of children and families in myriad ways. In an Editors' Note in our June 2020 issue,1 our senior editorial team described this Journal's role in advancing knowledge in child and adolescent mental health during the pandemic and outlined areas we identified as important for science and practice in our field. Since then, the Journal has published articles on the impacts of the pandemic on child and adolescent mental health and service systems,2-5 which are available in a special collection accessible through the Journal's website.6 Alongside many opinion papers, the pace of publication of empirical research in this area is rapidly expanding, covering important issues such as increased frequency of mental health symptoms among children and adolescents3,5,7-10 and changes in patterns of clinical service use such as emergency department visits.11-14 As the Senior Editors prepared that Editors’ Note, they were acutely aware that the priorities that they identified were broad and generated by only a small group of scientists and clinicians. Although this had the advantage of enabling us to get this information out to readers quickly, we decided that a more systematic approach to developing recommendations for research priorities would be of greater long-term value. We were particularly influenced by the efforts of the partnership between the UK Academy of Medical Scientists and a UK mental health research charity (MQ: Transforming Mental Health) to detail COVID-19−related research priorities for “Mental Health Science” that was published online by Holmes et al. in The Lancet Psychiatry in April 2020.15 Consistent with its focus on mental health research across the lifespan, several recommendations highlighted child development and children's mental health. However, a more detailed assessment of research priorities related to child and adolescent mental health was beyond the scope of that paper. Furthermore, the publication of that position paper preceded the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police on May 25, 2020, which re-energized efforts to acknowledge and to address racism and healthcare disparities in the United States and many other countries. To build upon the JAACAP Editors’ Note1 and the work of Holmes et al.,15 we conducted an international survey of professionals—practitioners and researchers—working on child and adolescent development and pediatric mental health to identify concerns about the impact of the pandemic on children, adolescents, and their families, as well as what is helping families navigate these impacts, and the specific research topics that are of greatest importance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)544-554.e8
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2021

Bibliographical note

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© 2021 American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry


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