It's no secret that the coronavirus outbreak is taking a toll on people's mental health, but research shows one segment of the population is having a particularly hard time. According to a new study conducted by Ad Council, the coronavirus pandemic is uniquely stressing out parents.
"All Americans are dealing with the basic needs like PPE and financial assistance, paying those bills," Derrick Feldmann, lead researcher on Ad Council's study "Coping with COVID-19" tells Romper. "But add another layer in there for those who have kids in the household under the age of 18, they have not only that concern, plus they also have other issues related to education and keeping family members entertained."
Due to these unique difficulties — like trying to work from home while also homeschooling young children — it's no surprise that Ad Council's research found that parents felt more anxious, tired, and irritable than those without kids in the household while social distancing. According to the study, 45% of respondents with children reported feeling anxious, 44% reported feeling tired, and 30% reported feeling irritable.
As for why anxiety levels are so high among parents, Feldmann, a father of two himself, says it's partly because "they are looking for peace of mind" and "some sort of stability in terms of where we are right now and assistance in getting an understanding of what's to come."
With the unemployment rate rising due to the global pandemic, families are also experiencing financial hardships. According to the study, 87% of respondents with children under 18 in their household reported having a financial impact, compared to 77% of those without kids in the home.
On top of heightened stress levels and financial struggles, Ad Council's research also found that parents reported needing much more help than those without kids in the household. For example, 42% of parents reported needing PPE like masks and/or gloves and 40% reported needing help getting peace of mind — compared to 27% and 24% of non-parents, respectively.
During this difficult time, Feldmann recommends parents share their tips and tricks to support one another. "We each have unique skills and assets that we bring and can share with our fellow Americans to help them and I think this is a great way to be there for one another. You may not necessarily have the financial means to support another family, but you definitely have your own insights and tips [that can help]."
For instance, one creative mom shared a video of herself wearing a full Buzz Lightyear helmet to the grocery story in order to get chicken nuggets, giving parents a clever idea and a much-need laugh. And, as Good Morning America reported, another mom shared her "bucket list" hack that saves her from constantly having to say no to her kids when they want to go out and do something.
"What we know from the data is parents are looking to other parents for support, guidance, and insight," Feldmann tells Romper. "They're really going for advice and tips. So, for those who have kids and have been successful [in keeping them engaged], there's an opportunity to share what you've learned and really be a resource for other parents who are going through the same experience."
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here, and Bustle’s constantly updated, general “what to know about coronavirus” here.