Two out of three young mothers have at least one mental health problem, according to a new research done in Canada.
Researchers found that teen mothers have a much higher prevalence of mental health challenges than mothers aged 21 and older, and teens who aren’t parents. Almost 40% of young moms have more than one mental health issue, including depression, a range of anxiety disorders and hyperactivity. This is up to four times higher than in mothers aged 21 years or older and teens without children, the research said.
“Now that we understand that young mothers can struggle with problems other than just postpartum depression, our findings can be used to develop better screening processes, more effectively detect mental health problems in teenaged mothers, and direct treatment,” according to Dr. Ryan Van Lieshout, psychiatrist and Canada Research Chair in the Perinatal Programming of Mental Disorders
The study, recently published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, says identifying and treating mental health issues in young mothers is especially important as their health also affects the wellbeing of their children. The research recommends “further efforts should be directed at engaging and treating this high-risk group.”
“Young mothers can face a great deal of adversity both before and after becoming a parent, yet next-to-nothing has been known about the rates and types of significant mental health problems among these women in our community,” says Dr. Van Lieshout. “We did this study to better understand these problems so that we can help to improve outcomes for young mothers and their families.”
Between 2012 and 2015, the Young Mothers Health Study recruited 450 mothers aged younger than 21 years old and 100 comparison mothers aged older than 20 years old at the time of their first delivery.