The pandemic has taken a huge toll on many, including younger people. Children had to adapt to virtual learning, stay home from numerous activities that were once considered normal, and get accustomed to wearing a tight mask around their faces. With such sudden change, mental health has evidently become a big issue among not only adults, but also in youths.
What did the report reveal?
A new study by Pew Research Center revealed that parents are genuinely concerned with the mental health of their children. Between September 20 through October 2, 2022, Pew Research Center collected 3,757 U.S. parents with children under the age of 18.
The report states around four in 10 parents across the U.S. with children under the age of 18 are concerned for their children’s mental health. Whether it’s depression, anxiety, or other concerns, mental health ranks top among parent’s concerns over their children with 35 percent. This surpasses other concerns, including drugs and alcohol, teen pregnancy, and police intervention.
Around 40 percent of parents reported that they were extremely concerned with their children suffering from depression or anxiety, while the percentage for teen pregnancy stood at 16 percent. Approximately 36 percent of parents said they were somewhat concerned with their children’s mental health, and only 23 percent said they were not concerned.
The study also revealed that mothers are significantly more concerned for their children’s mental health compared to fathers. The numbers also vary by financial income and by race and ethnicity. Those on the lower tax bracket and Hispanic parents are overall more concerned about their children’s physical health, teen pregnancy, and drugs and alcohol.
Compared to White and Asian parents, Black and Hispanic parents are also more worried about their children getting shot or being intervened with the police.
What other results did the study find?
Parents reported that they wish financial independence and career contentment for their children in adulthood. Around 90 percent of parents reported that it is crucial for their children to be financially independent when they become adults, and also find jobs that they are happy with. Around 41 percent said it is critical for their children to receive college education, while approximately 20 percent of them said it is more important for their children to settle down and get married to build a family of their own.
The study saw a significant difference in responses by race and ethnicity. Around 70 percent of Asian parents said college education is very valuable, compared with only 57 percent of Hispanic parents, 29 percent of white parents, and 51 percent of Black parents.
"I didn’t have a safe place to express my emotions of feeling understood. I try to have weekly talks with my kids to check in on their emotions to see how they are. Even if they had a good week, I have found it is still good to remind them you are there for them," shared one 32-year-old mother with Pew Research Center.
"I’m much more involved in their day-to-day lives, mental and emotional well-being and aware of their friendships, relationships in general," shared another mother.
Around 62 percent reported that parenting is more difficult than they anticipated. Fortunately, 64 percent of parents said they think they are doing a phenomenal job as parents, while only 4 percent think they are doing poorly.
These ratings also, however, differ slightly by tax brackets and income. Those with higher income and Black and white parents were the ones with highest ratings for themselves.
How can we take care of our mental health?
Per the World Health Organization, the pandemic brought many more concerns about mental health. staying home and not getting enough time physical activities greatly impacted the public in ways we still haven't fully studied.
Social activities were suddenly hindered, and daily tasks were unexpectedly stopped. Although time has passed since the first lockdown and many have gotten accustomed to the new normal, a large number of individuals still struggle with their mental health. Staying home and not getting the exercise you need can really take a toll on your mental health, and WHO recommends staying physically active and taking care of our mental health.
Some simple yet effective ways to take care of your mental health involve having a set routine, limiting too much screen time, exercising, and eating healthy. If you’re looking for a hobby, community gardening may be a good option to get some sunlight and also gain social interaction. Taking up dance classes, joining a meditation group, or implementing activities with a goal can greatly enhance a person's life and mental health.