Researchers examine the state of maternal mental health during COVID-19 lockdowns

Researchers conducted an online survey involving nearly 2,500 Chinese, Dutch, and Italian mothers.

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A study in the journal Psychological Medicine shows the urgency for public health officials to address the demands of maternal mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns.

As part of a team effort, researchers at Radboud University, Peking University, Tilburg University, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and Padua University conducted an online survey, having recruited nearly 2,500 Chinese, Dutch, and Italian mothers.

The participants had children considered to be either in infancy or middle childhood. The study aimed at assessing their mental health and family functioning during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

According to the findings, the risk of mental health problems among the women assessed depended on three factors: socioeconomic status, employment status, and educational attainment.

“In Italy, maternal age and poor physical health were related to more mental health symptoms, while in the Netherlands maternal high education and unemployment were associated with mental health symptoms,” the results showed in a Cambridge report.

“In China, having more than one child, being married, and grandparental support for mothers were important protective factors lowering the risk for mental health symptoms,” the report also found.

Among the Chinese mothers, the results indicated that higher socioeconomic status and poor physical health was associated with an increased risk of mental health problems.

Overall, the findings depict an urgency for at-risk mothers who may experience mental health decline as a result of the recent pandemic.

“These findings may inform future interventions aimed at improving maternal mental health during future pandemics,” said Jing Guo, co-author of the study, in a news release.