According to the Office of National Statistics, there were about 2.9 million single-parent families in the UK in 2019. Apart from the number of single-parent families, another issue worth tackling is the mental health challenges they face. Reports on the UK’s mental health issues indicated that quite a number of single mothers had at least one mental health issue, aside from issues associated with motherhood. Below are some of them.
- Stigma and judgment
A recent Huffington Post report sought to throw more light on the stigma and judgement that single parents (especially mothers) face in society. The report highlighted that the social stigma might stem from a conservative perspective people often have of what the ‘ideal’ family should be. These unconscious biases manifest as judgement and stigma. And unfortunately, many people are unaware of these subconscious biases.
For single parents braving the odds to provide for their children, this, unfortunately, can take a toll on their mental health. In a survey to understand the degree of this impact, many said they felt they had to explain their situation to others and admitted to an unconscious need to be understood by others. Other single mothers also felt compelled to explain why it wasn’t an intended decision to opt for lone parenting. Indeed, the pressure of negative assumptions can be demoralising and unfair and increase the risk of mental health deterioration. Those with pre-existing mental health problems also run the risk of aggravating them. Fortunately, with institutions like Psymplicity, affected persons can seek timely care.
- The psychological impact of financial insecurity
According to psychologists, poor or unstable finances can impact a person’s mind. Anxiety and depression may arise for a single parent as pressure mounts to manoeuvre the economic hardship. According to gingerbread.org.uk, 82% of single parents in the UK feel the psychological pressure of inadequate income. And the dire need to meet increasing living costs greatly affects their mental health.
Furthermore, in a report titled, ‘The single parent debt trap,’ Gingerbread pointed out that 69% of single parents experiencing the debt trap also experience a decline in mental health. Without a doubt, personal finances play a vital role in the psychological well-being of any person. Sadly, single parents are more likely to go through this.
- Inadequate self-care leading to chronic stress
Even in two-parent families, self-care is usually ignored to make room for other responsibilities. Naturally, so much attention shifts to childcare and all that comes with it. In the end, very few parents commit time to self-care. Once again, the impact is even more for single parents because the pressure to sacrifice it all for their children takes dominance. Because they consistently relegate their well-being to the background, little to no attention is given to mental health, putting them at a higher risk of experiencing low energy, chronic stress and depression.
Last but not least, statistics indicate that many single mothers have a history of domestic abuse from an ex-partner or spouse. Having to choose between fleeing with their kids or staying with an abuser can deteriorate their mental health too.