Study: Mother Needs Help
> 5/31/2007 11:40:30 AM

Raising children can be a rewarding experience, but it can also be an extremely stressful experience. A study appearing in the July edition of the American Journal of Public Health entitled, “Parenting-Related Stressors and Self-Reported Mental Health of Mothers With Young Children”, reveals the troubling extent to which caring for young children without adequate support can be dangerous for a mother’s mental health.

A large sample from a 2000 National Survey was used to find the correlation between the amount of support that mothers’ reported and the state of their mental health. The study found that mothers lacking practical support (help changing diapers, someone to baby-sit, etc.) were 2.2 times more likely to report mental distress. Even more significantly, mothers without proper emotional support were 3.5 times more likely to suffer poor mental health.
These findings suggest that social support for mothers should be given renewed attention. If only for pragmatic reasons, companies may want to give more than routine maternity leave to working mothers. Pressure-relieving childcare services such as daycare could greatly alleviate stress and avoid health problems in the long-term and loss of productivity in the short-term. Given the strong influence of emotional support, preemptive counseling could prevent deterioration of mental health. Healthcare plans might also be wise to cover counseling for mothers before stress leads to significant health problems. Raising children is supposed to be a joy, and with a little support and understanding of the accompanying stress, it can be.

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