Child Mind Institute’s CRISIS survey yields insights to psychological impact of COVID-19


Perceived risk of COVID-19, prior mental health status, and lifestyle changes were key predictors of mental health during the pandemic in adults and children in the US and UK

To better understand the psychological and physical impact caused by the profound consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic – and also inform priorities for interventions and policy changes to address the mental health consequences of the pandemic — researchers from the Center for the Developing Brain at the Child Mind Institute developed and deployed the CoRonavIruS health and Impact Survey (CRISIS). This questionnaire covered key topics relating to mental distress and resilience during the pandemic. According to a newly-published manuscript of the findings, perceived risk of COVID-19, prior mental health status, and lifestyle changes were key predictors of mental health during the pandemic in adults and children surveyed in the U.S. and U.K.

In the study, supported by the Morgan Stanley Alliance for Children’s Mental Health, “The Coronavirus Health and Impact Survey (CRISIS) reveals reproducible correlates of pandemic?related mood states across the Atlantic,” published in the journal Scientific Reports, research scientist Aki Nikolaidis and his colleagues detail how survey data was collected from April 7-17, 2020 among more than 5,900 participants: 1,527 U.S adults and 1,539 U.K. adults, as well as 1,121 U.S. parents and 1,459 U.K. parents reporting on their children. In addition to questions about prior mental health status and COVID worries – expected to be the strongest predictors of current mental health – the questionnaire also posed questions about lifestyle changes such as social distancing and financial insecurity, as well as key behaviors like sleep and exercise, to identify additional factors that impact mental well-being.

The researchers also explain how these results in the U.S. and U.K. – including participation and completion rates – demonstrate the feasibility, reliability, and validity of the CRISIS. CRISIS is currently being administered in more than eight countries, and translations have been developed in several languages.

“Our findings suggest that future research and intervention efforts may benefit from focusing on how to ameliorate the negative ramifications of social isolation and economic insecurity that we find related with the worst mental health outcomes in children and adults, in particular those already with a history of mental health problems,” said Nikolaidis. “These results support prior work suggesting that individual differences in the stresses associated with changes in lifestyle are one of the most important correlates of the pandemic’s effect on mood and anxiety.”

“These survey findings help identify those who are at risk and lay the groundwork for targeted support to improve mental health outcomes,” said Joan Steinberg, President of the Morgan Stanley Foundation and CEO of the Morgan Stanley Alliance for Children’s Mental Health. “We are proud to support research that will identify changes in behavioral and mental health among children and adults as the pandemic continues. CRISIS, and the work of the Child Mind Institute, furthers Morgan Stanley’s commitment to bring together nonprofit organizations to help deliver positive, tangible impact on the critical challenges of stress, anxiety, and depression in children, adolescents and young people.”


About the Child Mind Institute

The Child Mind Institute is an independent, national nonprofit dedicated to transforming the lives of children and families struggling with mental health and learning disorders. Our teams work every day to deliver the highest standards of care, advance the science of the developing brain, and empower parents, professionals and policymakers to support children when and where they need it most. Together with our supporters, we’re helping children reach their full potential in school and in life. We share all of our resources freely and do not accept any funding from the pharmaceutical industry. Learn more at

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