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COVID-19 Adds To Mental Health Strain On Parents, Caregivers

By Nicholas Gerbis
Published: Friday, June 18, 2021 - 3:30pm

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Parents and unpaid caregivers of adults have long faced mental health challenges brought on by the stressors of their roles.

A new study published by the CDC shows how COVID-19 may have intensified those struggles.

In a survey of more than 10,000 parents and caregivers in December 2020 and February–March 2021, more than two-thirds reported mental health issues, compared to one-third of non-caregivers.

More than half reported anxiety or depression, and one-third or more reported passive or serious suicidal thoughts.

Passive suicidal thoughts involve a desire to die, as when a person feels they would like to go to sleep and not wake up. Serious suicidal ideation entails more actively considering or planning one's own death. The line is blurrier than it sounds, and experts warn against treating one as less concerning than the other. 

People who filled both parental and caregiver roles were five times as likely to have symptoms and eight times as likely to consider suicide.

Those who cared for adults with mental health or substance use conditions were hit especially hard, as were those who care for adults with acute or chronic health conditions, cognitive impairments and age-related health decline.

Feeling unprepared, resentful, trapped or financially strapped further worsened these adverse mental health effects.

The authors say the findings underline the need for tailored support services, including telehealth, adult day services and suicide prevention support.

Coronavirus Science Aging Health + Medicine