The study showed that about 70 percent of parents and adult caregivers — such as those tending to older people, for example — and about 85 percent of people who were both, reported adverse mental health symptoms during the pandemic, versus about a third of people who did not hold those responsibilities, the New York Times reported.
The study also found that people who were both parent and caregivers were eight times more likely to have seriously considered suicide than people who held neither role.
“These findings highlight that parents and caregivers, especially those balancing roles both as parents and caregivers, experienced higher levels of adverse mental health symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic than adults without these responsibilities,” the authors were quoted as saying.
“Caregivers who had someone to rely on for support had lower odds of experiencing any adverse mental health symptoms,” they added.
The study reinforced the need to destigmatize mental health issues among caregivers and for better support systems, Elizabeth A. Rohan, a health scientist at the CDC, was quoted as saying by the NYT.
Communication is key, she said, and “it doesn’t have to be professional help”.
“We cannot underestimate the importance of staying connected to one another”, which is helpful whether the person is “a trusted friend, a family member or a professional”, she added.
The study is based on data from online English-language surveys administered to panels of US residents run by Qualtrics, a company that conducts commercial surveys, for the COVID-19 Outbreak Public Evaluation Initiative, an effort to track American attitudes and behaviours during the pandemic.
The data was gathered from December 6 to 27 last year, and from February 16 to March 8 of this year, and relied on 10,444 respondents, weighted to match US demographic data, 42 per cent of whom identified as parents or adult caregivers.
The surveys included screening items for depression, anxiety, COVID-19 trauma and stress-related disorders, and asked respondents whether they had experienced suicidal thinking in the past month.