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Publication Detail
Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health and wellbeing of parents with young children: a qualitative interview study
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Authors:
    Dawes J, May T, McKinlay A, Fancourt D, Burton A
  • Publisher:
    Springer Science and Business Media LLC
  • Publication date:
    15/12/2021
  • Journal:
    BMC Psychology
  • Volume:
    9
  • Article number:
    194
  • Status:
    Published
  • Print ISSN:
    2050-7283
  • Language:
    English
  • Keywords:
    Parents, Mental health, COVID-19, Qualitative research
  • Notes:
    This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Abstract
Background: Parents have faced unique challenges during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, including mobility constraints, isolation measures, working from home, and the closure of schools and childcare facilities. There is presently a lack of in-depth qualitative research exploring how these changes have affected parents’ mental health and wellbeing. Methods: Semi-structured qualitative interviews with 29 parents of young children. Interviews were analysed using reflexive thematic analysis. Results: We identified five superordinate themes affecting participant mental health and wellbeing: (1) navigation of multiple responsibilities and change inside the home; (2) disruption to home life; (3) changes to usual support networks; (4) changes in personal relationships; and (5) use of coping strategies. Participants described stress and exhaustion from navigating multiple pressures and conflicting responsibilities with home, schooling, and work, without their usual support networks and in the context of disrupted routines. Family roles and relationships were sometimes tested, however, many parents identified coping strategies that protected their wellbeing including access to outdoor space, spending time away from family, and avoiding conflict and pandemic-related media coverage. Conclusions: Employers must be cognisant of the challenges that the pandemic has placed on parents, particularly women and lone parents. Flexible working arrangements and support might therefore relieve stress and increase productivity. Coping strategies identified by parents in this study could be harnessed and encouraged by employers and policymakers to promote positive wellbeing during times of stress throughout the pandemic and beyond.
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