Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Arts




Fenesi, Barbara


In March 2020, the world entered a state of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The isolation caused by the pandemic had an unprecedented effect on the lives and general wellbeing of individuals worldwide. The present study engaged 15 children with diagnosed Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) and their parents in virtual interviews in order to explore the unique ways that the COVID-19 pandemic affected their mental health and the specific barriers they faced to maintaining optimal mental health. A thematic analysis revealed that the most frequently identified mental health effects were increased child anxiety and disconnectedness, as well as deteriorating parental mental health. The most frequently identified barriers to maintaining optimal mental health were lack of routine, lack of social interaction and social supports, and uncertainty and fear. This research identified areas of need during times of social isolation, specifically in families with children with ADHD, and is intended to help create safeguards to support mental wellbeing during times of crisis.

Summary for Lay Audience

The COVID-19 pandemic obliged families to stay at home and isolate socially for several months beginning in March 2020. This required children to learn virtually from home, and many adults to work from home. The pandemic had unprecedented effects on the mental and physical wellbeing of individuals worldwide. It also created several barriers to maintaining optimal levels of mental and physical wellbeing. Recent research has shown that the restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in significant consequences including increased psychosocial problems, fear, anxiety, depression, stress, panic, and social isolation. The social isolation experienced by individuals throughout the COVID-19 pandemic is of great concern. Past literature has shown that loneliness can affect child development and result in feelings of depression, anxiety, and other mental and physical health concerns.

The findings mentioned above are of particular interest regarding children with a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) due to their predisposition to experiencing comorbid mental health issues. Some of the most common comorbid diagnoses are depression and anxiety disorders. Due to this predisposition, it is important to consider how these comorbidities might be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The present study aimed to explore the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of children with ADHD and their families, as well as the unique barriers they face to maintaining optimal mental wellbeing. These issues were explored through conducting interviews with 15 children-parent pairs that asked them about their own experiences during the pandemic. The most frequently identified mental health effects were increased child anxiety, increased child depression, and feeling disconnected. The most frequently identified barriers to maintaining optimal mental health were lack of routine, lack of alone time, and lack of social interaction. Results from this study will hopefully help better support children with ADHD and their families through a pandemic.

Available for download on Thursday, June 27, 2024

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