In England, school closures during the Covid lockdown badly affected the mental health of mothers but no impact on fathers’ wellbeing, research has found. Doing home school, childcare, and their job led to more mothers of pre-teenage children feeling a lack of sleep and depression. The mental health problem increased of the parents due to Covid. The study found mental health of fathers and mothers was worse than before the Covid. However, this applied among fathers “regardless of whether their children were prioritized for school.” Mothers had to bear everything, with fathers barely affected by way of school.
According to academics from Essex, Surrey, and Birmingham universities, closing schools to stop the spread of Covid had “a significant detrimental effect” on mothers’ mental health. However, for fathers made no difference. A study was done on 1,500 parents of children aged between four and 12 in England, and findings are based on that study. The research was done to see how the parents cope mentally with school closure during the 1st lockdown, which began in March 2020.
There was a difference in impact among parents whose children went back to school in June and parents whose children at home till September. Mothers whose children missed the entire summer term were worst affected. In the general health questionnaire, their response to 12 questions, an established way of measuring mental wellbeing, showed a significant decline compared with before the pandemic began.
The researchers found that mothers with at least one child who didn’t go to school “are more likely to report losing more sleep to worry, to feel constantly under strain; to feel like they can’t overcome their difficulties; [and] to feel unhappy or depressed.” This was published in a new report for the institute for social and economic research (ISER) at Essex University. The other effects were women losing confidence in themselves and could not enjoy day-to-day activities.
“The impact of having children out of school on mothers’ mental health is substantial, and an important hidden cost of lockdown. Our study shows – for the first time – the strain of school closures on mothers’ mental health,” said Dr. Laura Fumagalli, a research fellow at the ISER and one of the report’s four co-authors. The authors identified a sharp increase in loss of contact with peers, social isolation, and loneliness as the critical triggers for mothers’ decline in mental health.