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What Family Circumstances, During COVID-19, Impact on Parental Mental Health in an Inner City Community in London?

Whitaker, L; Cameron, C; Hauari, H; Hollingworth, K; O'Brien, M; (2021) What Family Circumstances, During COVID-19, Impact on Parental Mental Health in an Inner City Community in London? Frontiers in Psychiatry , 12 , Article 725823. 10.3389/fpsyt.2021.725823. Green open access

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Abstract

The introduction of lockdown due to a public health emergency in March 2020 marked the beginning of substantial changes to daily life for all families with young children. Here we report the experience of families from London Borough of Tower Hamlets with high rates of poverty and ethnic and linguistic diversity. This inner city community, like communities worldwide, has experienced a reduction or closure in access to education, support services, and in some cases, a change in or loss of income, job, and food security. Using quantitative survey items (N = 992), we examined what differences in family circumstances, for mothers and fathers of young children aged 0-5 living in Tower Hamlets, during March 2020 to November 2020, were associated with their mental health status. We measure parental mental health using symptoms of depression (self-report: Patient Health Questionnaire depression scale: PHQ-8), symptoms of anxiety levels (self-report: General Anxiety Disorder: GAD-7), and perceptions of direct loneliness. We find parental mental health difficulties are associated with low material assets (financial security, food security, and children having access to outside space), familial assets (parents time for themselves and parent status: lone vs. cohabiting), and community assets (receiving support from friends and family outside the household). South Asian parents and fathers across ethnicities were significantly more likely to experience mental health difficulties, once all other predictors were accounted for. These contributing factors should be considered for future pandemics, where restrictions on people's lives are put in place, and speak to the importance of reducing financial insecurity and food insecurity as a means of improving the mental health of parents.

Type: Article
Title: What Family Circumstances, During COVID-19, Impact on Parental Mental Health in an Inner City Community in London?
Location: Switzerland
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyt.2021.725823
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.725823
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2021 Whitaker, Cameron, Hauari, Hollingworth and O'Brien. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Keywords: child mental health, financial insecurity, food poverty, inner city, mental health, poverty
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Social Research Institute
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10141823
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