A recent study has unveiled the fact that teen mothers are much more prone to develop mental health issues than mothers aged 21 and older, as well as teens who are not parents. The paper was conducted by McMaster Children’s Hospital and demonstrated that two out of three young mothers have at least one mental health condition.
Approximately 40 percent of young moms have more than one mental health problem, such as depression, a variety of anxiety disorders, and hyperactivity. This is about four times higher than in mothers of age 21 or older, as well as teens without children.
“Now that we understand that young mothers can struggle with problems other than just postpartum depression, our findings can be used to develop better screening processes, more effectively detect mental health problems in teenaged mothers, and direct treatment,” said Dr. Ryan Van Lieshout, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences at McMaster University.
“We hope that this sparks partnerships between healthcare, educational, and social service organizations so that we can meet the needs of this vulnerable population,” he added.
The Mother’s Wellbeing is Vital to the Child
The research was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health and showcases that detecting and treating health issues in young mothers is incredibly crucial because their health also impacts the wellbeing of their children.
“Young mothers can face a great deal of adversity both before and after becoming a parent, yet next-to-nothing has been known about the rates and types of significant mental health problems among these women in our community. We did this study to better understand these problems so that we can help to improve outcomes for young mothers and their families,” Dr. Van Lieshout explained.
Between 2012 and 2015, the Young Mothers Health Study contracted 450 mothers with ages lower than 21 years old and 100 mothers aged older than 20 years old when they have first delivered.
Lead author on the study, Dr. Ryan explained that “Because Canadian teen mothers are a difficult group to study, most previous research was based on very small samples and used mailed questionnaires rather than doing direct interviews. Structured diagnostic interviews are the gold standard for this kind of research. We’re glad to have used this method to talk to hundreds of young mothers about their experiences.”
The mothers matched by age in the research were also compared with 15 to 17-year-old women who had no children from the 2014 Ontario Child Health Study, who were examined for mental conditions.