The Impact of Covid-19 School Closures on Parents
A study of parents in England has found that mothers have suffered from loneliness, depression, and problems sleeping as a direct result of school closures during the Covid-19 lockdowns. While mothers’ mental health has been badly damaged, the study found no impact on fathers’ wellbeing.
While many children might have seen the time off school as a positive, it has been stressful and overwhelming for parents as thousands faced taking almost complete responsibility for their child’s education during lockdown, often alongside working. Doing childcare and homeschooling, alongside work, led to more mothers of pre-teenage children feeling depressed and even seeing themselves as worthless.
Why has the mental health problems among parents increased during the pandemic, and what can be done about it to support them further as we see the light at the end of the ‘pandemic tunnel’.
The pandemic has increased mental health problems amongst parents generally, but mothers’ mental health has worsened considerably compared to before the pandemic, the study has found. While it seemed mothers faced stress at the future of their child’s education, fathers were barely affected and “made no difference” to their overall mental health.
The study was conducted with 1,500 parents of children aged between four and twelve in England. It was based on how they mentally coped with the school closures during the first lockdown, which began in March 2020. With already shocking results for the mental impact on mothers in just the first lockdown, it’s easy to imagine the long-term impact as we faced two further lockdowns, which caused disruptions to education.
The study looked at the differences in impact between parents whose children were allowed back to school at the start of June (primary school pupils in reception, year one, and year six) and those who did not return until September.
It was found that mothers whose children missed the entire summer term were worst affected, with their answers to the questionnaire showing a significant decline in their mental health compared to before the pandemic. These mothers were more likely to lose more sleep due to worry, feel overwhelmed, as well as unhappy and depressed.
Other effects of school closures included women losing confidence in themselves and thinking of themselves as worthless. As a result, they were unable to enjoy their normal day-to-day activities. The co-author of the report, Dr Laura Fumagalli, has said that the study shows “for the first time the strain of school closures on mothers’ mental health.”
She added that “we estimate that school closures could be responsible for around half of the decline in mental health experienced by mothers during the pandemic. It is striking that fathers’ mental health does not seem to be affected by school closures.”
The study also found that a sharp increase in loneliness, social isolation and the loss of contact with peers were sharp triggers for mothers’ decline in mental health.
Mental Health Support
If you are a mother struggling as a direct result of school closures, or perhaps the temporary or permanent closure of your work, then therapy for stress and depression can support you. It’s easy to fall into a pit of depression and let yourself drift away from friends and family as a result of Covid-19.
Therapy no longer has the excessive stigma attached to it, which prevents people from seeking the support they deserve. Instead, people are more accepting and understanding of therapy’s role in ensuring our ongoing health and happiness.
Therapy can help you understand why you suffer from poor mental health and develop tactics to overcome symptoms such as depressive thoughts, insomnia, and detachment from friends and family.
Please look at my website to learn more about my services as a therapist and how I can support your ongoing mental health journey. Whether or not you struggle with your mental health as a direct result of Covid-19, I can help you understand your mind, how it works, and how you can keep it happy and healthy.