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Statistics on Parent-Child Mental Health

Parent-child mental health is connected in multiple ways

Mothers, particularly those with multiple children by age 30, are at risk of a wide range of mental health disorders, compared to women with no children. 

Motherhood was associated with an increase in symptoms over time, rather than higher symptoms at baseline. For this reason, mothers represent a high-risk group and should be prioritized for supportive care.

Younger age at first child was also a risk factor for a mother’s mental health disorders. 

Parents who have mental health challenges—such as coping with depression or anxiety—may have more difficulty providing care for their child compared to parents who describe their mental health as good. 

Parents lacking resources and supports may experience negative effects on their mental health and feel particularly challenged in caring for their children. 

Parents and children may experience shared risks, such as inherited vulnerabilities, living in unsafe environments and facing discrimination or deprivation.

Fathers are important to a child’s mental health 

Though fathers have a significant impact on a child’s mental health, research often excludes fathers’ mental health. While there is similar connections between fathers’ and mothers’ mental health and their child’s general and mental health, the maternal risk of mental health disorders was not replicated in fathers. 

According to a recent U.S. study, cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): 

Poor mental health among parents is associated with poor mental and physical health in children.

1 in 14 children, ages 0-17, has a parent with poor mental health. These children were more likely to have:

        • Poor general health
        • Mental, emotional or developmental disability
        • Adverse childhood experiences—such as exposure to violence or family disruptions including divorce—and to be living in poverty
        • Parents need support, which in turn helps them support their children’s mental health.


Learn more about the Parenthood Center at CFI…


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