WIdOmonitor: Children of single parents and low-income mothers …

AOK’s scientific institute

Berlin (ots)

Home education, quarantine, limited leisure opportunities and social gatherings: How have the pandemic stresses affected children’s health? The current WIdOmonitor on “Effects of the Covid 19 pandemic on children’s mental health” examines this question. The majority of mothers surveyed believe that their children came through the pandemic in relatively good health. While only 16 percent have noticed deterioration in their offspring’s physical health, more than one in three mothers report that their children’s mental health has suffered. This affects families with a low household income with an above-average frequency. For the WIdOmonitor from the Scientific Institute of the AOK (WIdO), which was carried out in collaboration with the German Youth Institute, 3,000 mothers of three to twelve-year-old children were interviewed in February and March this year.

When it comes to the answers to the questions about young people’s mental health, there is a clear social gap: during the corona pandemic, especially single parents and mothers with a simple education and low household income noticed a deterioration in their children’s mental health. This is said by significantly more low-income women (51.0 percent) and single parents (44.1 percent) than the average of 34.9 percent. In general, the current mental health of one’s own child is rated significantly worse than the physical health. 59.4 percent rate their children’s mental state as good or very good. Here, too, the assessment of mothers with a simple education (50.2 percent) or low household income (40.7 percent) and single parents (45.9 percent) is significantly worse.

“A common thread that runs through almost all the results of our study is that children from socially disadvantaged families were significantly more affected by the pandemic,” says Klaus Zok, head of the study in the research area Health Policy and System Analysis at WIdO. The results were consistent with those of other studies and studies that found lower health-related quality of life and more mental health problems in children of single parents.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, many children have only rarely or irregularly been able to use (pre)school education, care and upbringing. “Now it is important to deal with the burdens caused by the pandemic and to make up for lost time,” says Zok. Most of the mothers surveyed would like support from sports clubs (27.8 percent), followed by school psychologists and social workers (24.8 percent). Mothers with low social status expressed a need for guidance and study groups with an above-average frequency. Barely a third do not want any support. This proportion is above average in the group that probably has a higher need for support, that is, among mothers with a simple education (34.9 percent) and low household income (32.8 percent). “This gives rise to fears that existing care services do not sufficiently reach precisely those children who have a very high risk of pandemic-related stress and possible secondary diseases,” says Klaus Zok. Many of these offers are aimed at parents taking the initiative and actively asking for help for their children.

The majority of the mothers surveyed felt particularly or very heavily burdened (65.2 percent) by the limited kindergarten and school operations during the pandemic, especially the single parents with 69.6 percent. Here, too, there are clear social differences: mothers with low household income and single parents more often stated that they were under severe or very severe stress. It was apparently not without consequences for family life. Almost every second mother reports an increase in family disputes since the start of the pandemic. This applies to both minor problems, such as annoying discussions (47.6 percent) and serious incidents, such as loud arguments or physical violence (30.9 percent). Here, too, higher values ​​were found for low-income women, single parents and mothers who live with their children in less than 20 square meters of housing per

But the pandemic is not only having a negative impact on families. More than two-thirds of the mothers (73.1 percent) report that the feeling of togetherness in the family has grown. “However, the positive effects of the pandemic, such as stronger family cohesion or the discovery of new shared hobbies, were perceived much less often in socially disadvantaged families,” says Zok.

Children have become more irritable and aggressive

How has the corona stress affected the behavior of children and young people? More than one in two mothers (56.3 percent) mention abnormalities that may be related to the pandemic-related contact restrictions. Irritability and aggressiveness (36.5 percent) are by far the most important. About a quarter of respondents reported lack of drive (25.3 percent), anxiety (24.5 percent), depressed mood (23.8 percent) and severe restlessness (23.1 percent). In general, one in five mothers find that their offspring have become more irritable and aggressive since the beginning of the pandemic. The mothers primarily cited excessive media consumption (74.4 percent) and lack of exercise (63.2 percent) as the adverse effects of pandemic measures on their children. Four-fifths of obese children’s weight problems have worsened during the pandemic, and more than nine-tenths of children from low-income families. Here, too, there is a clear social gradient: mothers with a primary school education, low household income and single parents report much more often than average about behavior in their children that is dangerous to health and adverse effects of the pandemic. Around eleven percent of the mothers surveyed stated that a doctor or psychotherapist had diagnosed a mental illness in their child. A recommendation for psychotherapeutic treatment was made more frequently for children of single parents and mothers with a simple schooling or low income.

More information on the Internet: https://www.wido.de/publikationen-produkte/widomonitor/widomonitor-1-2022/

Press contact:

AOK’s scientific institute
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Telephone: 030 / 34646-2211
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Original content from: AOK Scientific Institute, transmitted by news aktuell

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