Mental Health Among Parents of Children Aged <18 Years and Unpaid Caregivers of Adults During the COVID-19 Pandemic - United States, December 2020 and February-March 2021.MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2021 Jun 18; 70(24):879-887.MM
Early during the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly two thirds of unpaid caregivers of adults reported adverse mental or behavioral health symptoms, compared with approximately one third of noncaregivers† (1). In addition, 27% of parents of children aged <18 years reported that their mental health had worsened during the pandemic (2). To examine mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic among U.S. adults on the basis of their classification as having a parenting role (i.e., unpaid persons caring for children and adolescents aged <18 years, referred to as children in this report) or being an unpaid caregiver of adults (i.e., persons caring for adults aged ≥18 years),§ CDC analyzed data from cross-sectional surveys that were administered during December 2020 and February-March 2021 for The COVID-19 Outbreak Public Evaluation (COPE) Initiative.¶ Respondents were categorized as parents only, caregivers of adults only, parents-caregivers (persons in both roles), or nonparents/noncaregivers (persons in neither role). Adjusted odds ratios (aORs) for any adverse mental health symptoms, particularly suicidal ideation, were higher among all respondents who were parents, caregivers of adults, or both compared with respondents who were nonparents/noncaregivers and were highest among persons in both roles (parents-caregivers) (any adverse mental health symptoms: aOR = 5.1, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 4.1-6.2; serious suicidal ideation: aOR = 8.2, 95% CI = 6.5-10.4). 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. Caregivers who had someone to rely on for support had lower odds of experiencing any adverse mental health symptoms. Additional measures are needed to improve mental health among parents, caregivers, and parents-caregivers.