Maternal depression and anxiety among children with mental health problems

  • Anthony L Pillay Department of Behavioural Medicine, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal and Midlands Hospital, PO Box 370, Pietermaritzburg 3200, South Africa


Objective: The investigation sought to examine depression and anxiety levels in mothers of children with mental health problems. Method: A case control design was employed and self-reports of depressive and anxiety symptoms were measured in a group of women whose children were receiving mental health care, as well as a community control group and a group of women receiving outpatient psychiatric care. Results: No significant differences were noted in depressive and anxiety symptoms between the mothers of children with mental health problems and the community controls, although both of these groups showed significantly lower levels of depression and anxiety than the psychiatric patient group. These findings were not influenced by demographic variables Conclusions: The findings are contrary to those of high income countries where mothers of children with mental health problems show higher levels of depression and anxiety. This disparity may be due to the sampling and mental health service usage patterns in low-income countries where mothers who seek mental health care for their children probably constitute a specific group of people who have awareness of mental health problems and available services. As a result their own mental health is likely to be better.

Journal of Child and Adolescent Mental Health 2008, 20(1): 13–20

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1728-0591
print ISSN: 1728-0583