Study reveals the mental-health toll of 'super-parent' cultural pressures

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It's estimated that mental illness will affect one in four people at some point in life.
By Cliff Mooneyham | Mar 18, 2016
The pressures to become a 'super parent' have been found to lead to mental health conditions in new mothers and fathers, according to research from the University of Kansas.

It's estimated that mental illness will affect one in four people at some point in life. Many children will grow up with a parent who will have some level of mental illness.

For decades, mental health experts have been emphasizing the hazards of postpartum depression in new mothers, but new research suggests that this awareness needs to expand further into other mental health conditions related to new parenthood, including issues that new fathers suffer from.

Carrie Wendel-Hummell, a KU doctoral candidate in sociology, conducted interviews on 30 new mothers and 17 new fathers ranging from low-income to middle-class socioeconomic statuses. All the parents experienced prolonged symptoms of at least one perinatal health condition. She emphasizes the importance of understanding the biological and sociological impact of the issues that new parents face on their overall mental well-being.

"Both mothers and fathers need to pay attention to their mental health during the perinatal period, and they need to watch for these other types of conditions, not just depression. Anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, psychosis, and bi-polar disorder are all shaped by circumstances that surround having a baby," said Wendel-Hummell in a statement.

Wendel-Hummell will present her study at the 109th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.


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