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Mothers and Their Children: An Exploration of the Relationship Between Maternal Mental Health and Child Well-Being

Abstract

Introduction

Psychosocial factors and life stressors have an impact on long-term health effects on mothers and their children. Recent studies examining maternal mental health have predominantly focused on identifying maternal experiences with depression; however, there has been minimal research investigating maternal experiences with psychosocial risk factors and its relationship with child well-being.

Methods

Secondary analysis was conducted using data from the Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Study. The study sample includes 2396 adolescents and their biological mothers. Adolescents were between the ages of 14 and 19. We examined primary outcomes regarding mental health (depression and anxiety), life-satisfaction, and substance usage (alcohol and drugs).

Results

The association between maternal psychosocial factors an adolescent depression was significant, F(26) = 5.29, p < .01. Mothers educational attainment and poverty level significantly predicted adolescent depression; with completion of some college (B = −0.411, p 0.025), a college degree (B = −0.540, p = 0.018), and living at the 300% poverty level (B = −0.725, p = 0.002) predicting lower levels of adolescent depression.

Conclusion

Our study demonstrates that there was a positive relationship between maternal mental health and adolescent mental health. Further, this study demonstrated that maternal mental health and social determinants of health are predictors of adolescent mental health and social functioning, thus indicating an inextricable connection to child well-being.

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Correspondence to D. Crystal Coles.

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Coles, D.C., Cage, J. Mothers and Their Children: An Exploration of the Relationship Between Maternal Mental Health and Child Well-Being. Matern Child Health J 26, 1015–1021 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10995-022-03400-x

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Keywords

  • Maternal mental health
  • Child well-being
  • Depression
  • Anxiety