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January 21, 2021 Thursday 04:06:19 PM IST

Parental mental health worsens under new UK COVID-19 restrictions

Parent Interventions

Parental stress, depression, and anxiety have again increased since new national restrictions have been introduced according to the latest report from the Oxford University-led COVID-19 Supporting Parents, Adolescents, and Children in Epidemics (Co-SPACE) study, based on data from over 6000 UK parents. Participating parents and carers recently reported an increase in symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression, especially during the period from November to December. This reflected symptoms such as difficulty relaxing, being easily upset or agitated, feeling hopeless, and lacking interest and pleasure, feeling fearful and worried, as well as being more irritable, over-reactive and impatient. This mirrors parent and carer reports of high levels of stress and depression between April and July last year, which were followed by lower levels of these difficulties between July and September.

Indeed, the data show that parents and carers from certain households have been particularly vulnerable to elevated mental health symptoms. Higher levels of stress, depression, and anxiety were reported by parents from single adult homes and lower income families (< £16,000 p.a.), as well as those who have children with special education needs and/or neurodevelopmental differences.

Notably, parents who had young children (10 or younger) living in the household reported particularly high stress during the first lockdown and around a third of them (36%) were substantially worried about their children's behaviour at that time. In contrast, a quarter (28%) of parents or carers who had older children only (11 or older) were worried about their children's behaviour during the first lockdown, yet nearly half (45%) of this group were worrying about their children’s future.

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