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UK Research Shows Mothers Affected More Due To Closure Of Schools

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Mental Health of Mothers: According to a research held by the University of Essex’s Institute for Social and Economic Research, the mental health of mothers was much more impacted by the closure of schools during Covid-19 than fathers in the UK.

A research was conducted by the University of Essex’s Institute for Social and Economic Research in collaboration with the universities of Surrey and Birmingham in the UK and it was found that the mental health of mothers became worse as the schools were shut during the pandemic. Fathers, on the other hand, did not experience much impact due to the closure of schools. The research was funded by Nuffield Health.

Schools were shut across the UK from March 2020 in view of the coronavirus situation. Besides working for their jobs, women were burdened with childcare and home-schooling which resulted in the decline of their mental health. The mothers of pre-teen kids were reported to feel lonely and less motivated.

The research was the first of its kind to look into the mental health of parents in view of the closure of schools during the pandemic. A General Health Questionnaire was circulated among parents to measure their current mental health well-being.

As the restrictions eased in the UK, certain schools were prioritised to open in June 2020. The research found that parents of these children experienced an improvement in their mental health indicating a causal relationship between the shutting of schools and the mental well-being of parents.

The stark contrast was also observed between the mental well-being of mothers and fathers through the research. “School closures have a significant detrimental effect on mothers’ mental health. In contrast, for fathers, it made no difference to their mental health.” They said as reported by The Independent.

The mothers whose children were still not going to school were affected mentally as there was restricted social communication and they experienced loneliness.

The research by the Institute for Social and Economic Research also found that the decline in parents’ mental health was temporary and improved as soon as their children returned back to school with the ease of restrictions.

Dr Laura Fumagalli, a researcher from the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex said, “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.”

Dr Claire Crawford from the University of Birmingham mentioned, “Our research suggests that, for the most part, mothers’ mental health seems to have bounced back once schools reopened, suggesting that the negative effects of school closures were temporary for many mothers.”

The results of the study were based on the response of around 1,500 parents of children aged between 4 and 12 in the UK.