Adverse Mental Health Symptoms Up During Pandemic for Parents, Caregivers

Odds ratios for adverse mental health symptoms, especially suicidal ideation, highest for those in both roles

THURSDAY, June 24, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Parents and caregivers, especially those who are both parents and caregivers, had higher levels of adverse mental health symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to research published in the June 18 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Mark É. Czeisler, from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues examined mental health among U.S. adults on the basis of their classification as having a parenting role (caring for children and adolescents younger than 18 years) or being an unpaid caregiver of adults during the COVID-19 pandemic. Data were analyzed from cross-sectional surveys administered during December 2020 and February to March 2021 for the COVID-19 Outbreak Public Evaluation Initiative.

The researchers found that compared with respondents who were nonparents/noncaregivers, respondents who were parents, caregivers of adults, or both had higher adjusted odds ratios for any adverse mental health symptoms, particularly suicidal ideation; these were highest for persons in both parent and caregiver roles (adjusted odds ratios, 5.1 and 8.2 for any adverse mental health symptoms and serious suicidal ideation, respectively).

“Caregivers, particularly persons with both parenting and adult caregiving responsibilities, will continue to face mental health challenges, and the need for caregivers is projected to increase as the U.S. population ages,” the authors write. “Additional research can assess differences in coping and help-seeking behaviors among parents and caregivers to further guide tailored support and services to meet their needs during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the biopharmaceutical industry.

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