Roughly 70% of parents and unpaid adult caregivers reported mental health issues over the past year, suggesting that while the pandemic is receding, many people will have to contend with the residual emotional strain for a while longer.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday that parents of children 18 and younger, caregivers of adults, and people who have both jobs were far more likely to experience symptoms of depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, or COVID-19 trauma- and stressor-related disorders than people without caregiving responsibilities.
“Of particular concern, 85% of respondents with both parenting responsibilities and adult caregiving responsibilities experienced adverse mental health symptoms,” the report’s authors said, adding that roughly 50% of caregivers with both responsibilities reported serious suicidal ideation and were eight times as likely to consider suicide compared with nonparents/noncaregivers.
The rates of suicidal ideations among caregivers with just one responsibility, caring for children or older adults, were also high, with more than 32% of those caregivers seriously considering suicide during the pandemic.
The CDC surveyed 10,444 parents and caregivers of older adults with cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, or another serious health condition, as well as adults without caregiving responsibilities. More than 42% identified as caregivers, and nearly 23% said they had both responsibilities — caring for children and older adults. Rates of mental health issues were highest among adults with both jobs, with 85% of parent-caregivers reporting feelings of anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, pandemic-related trauma, or a combination of all four.
“Caregivers, particularly persons with both parenting and adult caregiving responsibilities, will continue to face mental health challenges, and the need for caregivers is projected to increase as the U.S. population ages,” CDC researchers said.
The Biden administration has taken steps to alleviate some of the pressure on unpaid caregivers, including adults taking care of older loved ones. The $2 trillion COVID-19 pandemic recovery package passed in March, known as the American Rescue Plan, including higher allocations of relief funding for people with adult-age tax dependents and expanded child tax credits increasing from $2,000 per child to up to $3,600 per child aged 6 and under, and $3,000 per child aged 6 to 17.
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Original Author: Cassidy Morrison