World Children’s Day November 20

EFPA calls for equal access to education and mental health support for all Europe’s children.

During the pandemic at least 138 countries have closed schools nationwide

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has reported that during the first wave of the pandemic at least 138 countries have closed schools nationwide, and a series of regional or local closures have taken place in other countries ( The consequences of these long-term closures have been characterized as detrimental especially for children and adolescents living in poverty and other groups of vulnerable children (6.6 % households in Europe according to Eurostat and 14% in USA), leading to further educational, social and (mental) health level inequalities[1][2]Other educational challenges connected with low-income households, including limited access to internet, equipment for online education may lead to digital exclusion and further exacerbating the attainment gap[3].

Childrens day

Furthermore, the disruption of daily routines and usual activities due to containment measures or lockdownshave been associated with increased rates of children’s and adolescents’ mental health and well-being issues such as of depression, anxiety, and psychological stress[4][5][6][7]. Pre-existing mental health problems, the combination of social isolation and distancing, economic recession, and the limited provision of mental health care services in schools has led to exacerbation of these problems[8].

Taking into consideration that over 60% of the countries have reported disruptions to mental health services for vulnerable people, including children and adolescents (72%)[9], it is crucial for psychologists and mental health professionals to adopt innovative practices for the delivery of mental health services appropriately implemented. Telemental health, remote psychological services, and teleassessment have been put forward as effective practices, as long as, precautions are taken regarding their access by the majority of families and children[10].

Access to education and mental health services has been substantially affected for many children and young people

The full extent of COVID-19’s impact on children’s education and (mental) health is still unfolding. However, it is now well-documented that access to education and mental health services has been substantially affected for many children and young people, especially the most vulnerable ones. During these unsettling times, there is a paramount need to prioritise access to quality education and co-ordinated psychological and health services for children and adolescents in need in order to ameliorate the long-term effects on children’s educational and psychosocial outcomes. This year, more than ever, psychologists have a pivotal role to play in responding to new challenges and practices for meeting the needs of children, young people and their families.

[1] Masonbrink, A. R., & Hurley, E. (2020). Advocating for children during the COVID-19 school closures. Pediatrics, 146(3). 

[2] Schwartz, A. E., & Rothbart, M. W. (2020). Let them eat lunch: The impact of universal free meals on student performance. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 39(2), 376-410.

[3] Van Lancker, W., & Parolin, Z. (2020). COVID-19, school closures, and child poverty: a social crisis in the making. The Lancet Public Health, 5(5), e243-e244.

[4]Liu, W., Zhang, Q., Chen, J., Xiang, R., Song, H., Shu, S., ... & Wu, P. (2020). Detection of Covid-19 in children in early January 2020 in Wuhan, China. New England Journal of Medicine, 382(14), 1370-1371.

[5] Xie, X., Xue, Q., Zhou, Y., Zhu, K., Liu, Q., Zhang, J., & Song, R. (2020). Mental health status among children in home confinement during the coronavirus disease 2019 outbreak in Hubei Province, China. JAMA pediatrics. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.1619

[6] Zhou, S. J., Zhang, L. G., Wang, L. L., Guo, Z. C., Wang, J. Q., Chen, J. C., ... & Chen, J. X. (2020). Prevalence and socio-demographic correlates of psychological health problems in Chinese adolescents during the outbreak of COVID-19. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 1-10.

[7] Jiao, W. Y., Wang, L. N., Liu, J., Fang, S. F., Jiao, F. Y., Pettoello-Mantovani, M., & Somekh, E. (2020). Behavioral and emotional disorders in children during the COVID-19 epidemic. The journal of Pediatrics, 221, 264.

[8] Golberstein, E., Wen, H., & Miller, B. F. (2020). Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and mental health for children and adolescents. JAMA pediatrics. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.1456

[9] World Health Organization (2020). Mental health and COVID-19.

[10] Farmer, R. L., McGill, R. J., Dombrowski, S. C., McClain, M. B., Harris, B., Lockwood, A. B., ... & Benson, N. F. (2020). Teleassessment with children and adolescents during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and beyond: Practice and policy implications. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice.