Factors of lockdowns, therapy, vulnerable families - Pediatric Research Foundation
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Factors affecting positive and negative adaptation to lockdowns in children and their families and solution-focused brief family therapy for vulnerable families

A March 2020 review in The Lancet synthesizes previous literature examining the psychological impacts of lockdowns, including elevated levels of stress, anxiety, mood, and posttraumatic stress symptoms. Despite these findings in individuals, no studies to our knowledge have examined the psychological effects of lockdowns on children, families, and family functioning, the factors affecting positive and negative adaptation to lockdowns, or its treatment. This project aims to identify the factors affecting positive and negative adaptation to lockdowns in children, parents and families. It aims to identify at-risk families and establish necessary interventions and follow-up for those most in need of support. It examines the effects of the pandemic on the mental health of Canadian families (on parents, children, and the family unit) by assessing mental health according to a number of elements (anxiety, depression, stress, family functioning).

The project has three objectives:

  • Define the factors impacting the ability of children, parents and families to positively or negatively adapt to lockdowns.
  • Demonstrate that a short-term targeted family therapy intervention will be effective in addressing the exacerbating and psychological factors of lockdowns on at-risk families.
  • Educate and train community mental health workers to recognize families at risk and intervene to improve family functioning.


Preliminary results reveal that a vast majority of parents are exhibiting signs of anxiety (63%) or depression (73%), i.e., at clinically high percentages. Children also have high levels of anxiety (55%) and depression (71%). In addition, 78% of families had high scores on the questions regarding family function.

Leverage effect

With financial support from the Foundation of Stars, not only will we be able to better conduct recruitment and data collection, but we will also have the means to develop the clinical interventions necessary for impacted families. The funds will be used to help draft recommendations and training programs for social workers who will take on the role of intervening with the identified families. With this support, the project could obtain anywhere from four to ten times more funding from government agencies.


Principal researcher

  • Dr. Lily Hechtman, Psychiatrist, Full Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University


  • CHU Ste-Justine: Dr. Lila Amirali Head of the Department of Psychiatry, Associate Professor at Université de Montréal and Associate Professor at McGill University
  • McGill University: Dr. Philippe Hwang, Dr. Lara Ipekian and Dr. Nikhil Jaiswal

Research Center

  • McGill University Health Centre - MUHC

Funded year


Project category

  • Neurodevelopment and mental health