Millions of British mums believe becoming a parent has affected their mental health

A detailed study by Benenden Health has found that millions of British mums believe becoming a parent has negatively affected their mental health, with one in eight mothers aged 25-60 admitting that they struggle with mental stress every day.

Parenting is no pampers advert – sure there are lots of wonderful moments along the way but there is also sleep deprivation, stress and loneliness.

Research into Maternal mental health undertaken by Benenden Heath found that one in three parents believe they only experienced issues with their mental health after becoming a mum.

It doesn’t help that with the momentous change of becoming a parent come other frustrating challenges. Thirty-three per cent of mums say their career or work life has suffered after becoming a parent, and the same amount think their romantic relationship has deteriorated.

Cheryl Lythgoe, senior matron and a mum-of-four, said: “The mental and physical pressures of being a parent make it undoubtably one of the hardest jobs we will ever have.

“Our results found this statement is well borne out by modern mums, who are often struggling to deal with everything that gets thrown at them. While many mums may focus on the impact of becoming a parent on their physical health, there are also lots of mental health challenges, including stress and anxiety, that need to be managed. A strong support network of family, friends and colleagues, along with putting time aside for yourself as well as your children can help you make good strides towards staying healthy in both body and mind.”

While 44 per cent of respondents say their partner helps them deal with their stress – another 42 per cent claim their partner is the cause of it.

Unsurprisingly, more than half reported their sleep schedule was severely disrupted, and 37 per cent saw a downturn in their sex life. A third worry about their kids not getting good enough grades, and 55 per cent feel anxious their offspring could be bullied.

Another 45 per cent worry about their kids getting involved with the wrong crowd, which is perhaps even more prevalent in London Boroughs.

Cheryl Lythgoe added: “It is both sad and unsurprising that a third of mums feel their career has suffered after becoming a parent, while over half are struggling to maintain a good work/life balance. Employer culture can be a significant factor because whilst the law gives provision for basic equalities, employees who are mums can feel let down by a simple lack of support from their employer or little accessibility to flexible working arrangements. Increased stress therefore becomes one of the most reported impacts, which may lead to longer term mental health issues.

Many employers who recognise the value of mums as part of a diverse workforce are offering practical solutions, such as the provision of a mental health helpline through a healthcare provider. Other solutions include flexi-time arrangements, ability to work from home and childcare vouchers or financial support.

As well as talking to your GP when your mental health is causing you distress, there are many resources available if mums are concerned about their mental health. Find out more about the symptoms and ways to seek help at www.benenden.co.uk/postnatal.

The top causes for stress as a mum

  • Not having enough money
  • Worrying about bullying
  • Worrying about how well your child is doing at school
  • Worrying about your child’s future after education
  • Worrying about your child’s mental health
  • Pressures from social media presenting unrealistic expectations for mums to achieve
  • Not having enough hours in the day
  • Worrying your child isn’t eating properly
  • Keeping your relationship going
  • Worrying about your child’s physical health
  • Never having time to yourself
  • Feeling guilty about treating yourself
  • Self-doubt
  • Difficulty maintaining a work-life balance
  • Worrying about the house being a mess

You can find mental health tips suitable for all mums at www.benenden.co.uk/mentalhealthsupport.

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