Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): COVID-19 Related School Disruptions Impact on Mental Health, Cognitive, Social, and Emotional Development of Children

Funding Agency:
National Institutes of Health

NIMH is issuing this Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) to highlight interest in research to understand the mental health impact of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on school-aged children, specifically ages 3 - 12. Particularly, we are interested in the potential impact of primary instruction settings disruptions (e.g., pre-school, elementary school) on the mental health, cognitive, social, and emotional development of children. Empirical data would aid in balancing health risks for various public health mitigation strategies affecting children in the current pandemic as well as inform how to both be prepared and respond to future public health emergencies, including pandemics and disaster scenarios.

This notice applies to due dates on or after June 5, 2021 and subsequent receipt dates through September 8, 2022. 


Agency Website

Areas of Interest

In order to significantly improve our understanding of the impact of primary instruction setting disruptions on the mental health, cognitive, social and emotional development of school-aged children, NIMH is encouraging the submission of applications to address the following areas of scientific interest:

  • Research that leverages existing cohorts to examine the impact of distance, hybrid, and in person learning on children’s mental health as well as social, emotional and cognitive development and the factors that mitigate or exacerbate the impact of school disruptions on outcomes (e.g., individual, school, or policy level factors including duration of distance learning) that may inform future school policy or interventions to mitigate disruptions.
  • Research that leverages large, well-characterized samples to examine the impact of primary instruction setting disruptions on self-injurious behaviors, suicide ideation and attempt.
  • Research accessing and leveraging public and/or commercial educational, surveillance, and mental health data and/or private EHR data to identify populations at high risk for functional impairment, cognitive deficits, delay or decline, and mental health risk in the context of primary instruction setting disruptions.
  • Research on the impact of state, local, federal, and guild-specific guidelines and policies for school operation status, and how changes in those policies impact mental health, social and emotional development, and related impacts on cognitive development. Both risks and benefits of instruction setting (i.e., virtual, hybrid, remote learning) are of interest.
  • Using existing data, research on the impact of universal or indicated interventions to prevent anticipated mental health impacts of school disruption and loss of social connection in childhood.
  • Research on the disruption of special services for children in school, including mental health, nutrition programs, or after-school programs formally linked in the context of school disruptions, that may impact mental health or social development.
  • Research to determine the feasibility and utility of technology-enabled screening to identify/triage children at different developmental stages who may be in need of behavioral health support within the context of disrupted schooling.

Funding Type





Community Outreach and Engagement
Medical - Basic Science
Medical - Clinical Science
Medical - Translational
Social Sciences

External Deadline

June 5, 2022