Research

Lockdown worsens parents’ mental health

25 Feb 2021 By Jyoti Rambhai

Report finds those in low-income households are particularly vulnerable to high levels of stress, anxiety and depression

Single parents and families with a low income are more vulnerable to increased stress, anxiety and depression in lockdown, a study has revealed.

The latest report from Oxford University-led study Covid-19 Supporting Parents, Adolescents and Children in Epidemics (Co-SPACE) found parents’ mental health has got worse since the latest restrictions were introduced.

In the survey of more than 6,000 participants, parents reported an increase in symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression from November to December 2020, such as feeling hopeless, having difficulty relaxing and being easily upset or agitated. This mirrored the findings from the first lockdown between April and July 2020.

Parents with children under 10 living in the household reported particularly high levels of stress during the first lockdown. More than a third (36 per cent) said they were substantially worried about their children’s behaviour at the time. In contrast, 28 per cent of those with children over 11 said they were worried about their children’s behaviour, but 45 per cent were concerned about their children’s future.

According to the research, parents in low-income households – less than £16,000pa – were more likely to experience higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression. Single parents and parents of children with special education needs or neurodevelopmental differences were also particularly vulnerable to experiencing mental ill-health.

John Jolly, CEO of Parentkind, said: “Given the disruption to family life, it is vital that policymakers consult and listen to the concerns of parents on issues that directly impact them and their children’s futures.  

“The negative mental health consequences of lockdown are revealed to be most acute among single parents, parents of children with special education needs and disabilities and those on low incomes. Policymakers must give urgent consideration to how additional support for families most in need can be provided, before the disadvantage gap grows wide enough to create a lost generation.”

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