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Longitudinal Study: LSAC
Title: Parental Mental Health
Authors: Maguire, Brigit
Edwards, Ben 
Institution: Australian Institute of Family Studies
Publication Date: Aug-2012
Publisher: AIFS
Pages: 17
Keywords: parent
mental health
Abstract: In addition to being a study of children, Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) also collects extensive information about parents’ lives, including information about their mental health. The World Health Organization (2008) has estimated that unipolar depression is the third leading cause of burden of disease worldwide and that among women of childbearing age (15–44 years), poor mental health is the leading cause. In Australia,mental health is a national health priority. Estimates from the 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing (Australian Bureau of Statistics [ABS], 2007) suggest that mental health problems in the population affected 3.2 million people in the 12 months prior to the survey. The highest prevalence from this survey was at 16–24 years (26%), followed by the prime child rearing years of 25–34 years (25%) and 35–44 years (23%). Mental health problems of mothers in particular have been widely documented to be associated with adverse outcomes in children, including conduct problems and hyperactivity, depression,anxiety and medical problems (Beardslee, Versage, & Gladstone, 1998; Gunlicks & Weissman, 2008; Kramer et al., 1998). Less is known about the influence of fathers’ mental health on children’s outcomes (see Kane & Garber, 2004, for a review). A consistent explanation for the link between parental mental health and children’s poor development is that mental health problems affect a person’s ability to parent effectively and be responsive to their child’s needs, and may be associated with more irritable and angry parenting and lower parental warmth (Kane & Garber, 2004; Lovejoy,Grazcyk, O’Hare, & Neuman, 2000; Wilson & Durbin, 2010). This chapter uses data from LSAC to document the extent of mental health problems (as indicated by moderate to high levels of psychological distress) of mothers and fathers of children in Australia. It presents information about the prevalence of psychological distress in Australian parents in the four weeks prior to the LSAC interview. The chronicity of these problems––the extent to which moderate/high levels of psychological distress persist––is also explored. As LSAC is one of the few nationally representative longitudinal studies that collects information about fathers’ mental health, the extent to which both mothers and fathers in couple families experience psychological distress is also described. The mental health problems of lone mothers and parents living in jobless households are also documented. Finally, the extent to which parents with moderate/high levels of psychological distress show poorer parenting behaviours is explored.
Keywords: Families -- Mothers; Child Development; Health -- Mental; Stress -- Parenting stress; Families -- Fathers; Families -- Parents and Parenting
Research collection: Reports and technical papers
Appears in Collections:Reports

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