We all know the importance of reducing stress in our lives for our overall well-being. However, a recent study has found that the stress of being a parent and the trials of parenthood experienced by mothers can cause poor mental health in children.
The analysis, titled: Parental stress is a contributing factor linking maternal depression to child anxiety and depressive symptoms found that “parental stress, or the processes and subsequent reactions that result from attempting to manage the challenges and burdens of parenthood, as the factor that partially links maternal depression and child anxiety and depressive symptoms.”
This means that mothers who are depressed early in their children’s lives are likely to have children that exhibit symptoms of anxiety and depression in their later lives.
According to the researchers, mothers who experience depression struggle to create a warm home environment, which could have an impact on the mental health of the child.
The amount of stress brought on by the pandemic is undeniable. A recent survey by local scientists from the Human Sciences Research Council found that “ 33% of South Africans were depressed, while 45% were fearful, and 29% were experiencing loneliness during the first lockdown period.”
Further studies have found that hunger is one of the biggest drivers of poor mental health for the people of South Africa.
READ MORE: The benefits of gentle parenting
“Among the environmental influences on mental health, is the ability to fulfill one’s basic needs, like having stable housing, employment, and sufficient food. Hunger, in particular, is significantly associated with poor mental health, across a variety of settings,” the researchers noted.
One of the most insidious effects of the pandemic has been the loss of jobs. Recently, Statistics SA announced that 660 000 people lost their jobs in the third quarter of 2021. This brought South Africa’s unemployment rate to a staggering 34,9%.
To ensure that both mother and child are spared the devastating effects of depression and anxiety, researchers suggest both mother and child attend mental health treatment together and alone. More needs to be done to decrease the level of parental stress