Behind closed doors: the surge in mental distress of parents

Melbourne Institute Research Insight No. 21/20

Date: August 2020


Barbara Broadway
Susan Méndez
Julie Moschion


The economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and its subsequent restrictions has had an alarming effect on Australians' mental health. Particularly worrying is the increase in high mental distress among parents, especially among non-employed fathers and parents of primary school aged children. Financial stress and work-family conflict tend to be the two major sources of mental distress for parents. Using data from the Melbourne Institute's Taking the Pulse of the Nation survey and the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, this Research Insight examines the surge in mental distress in parents compared to pre-COVID. The study identifies who has been most impacted, looking at how it impacts mothers and fathers, and how employment status and the age of the child can influence mental distress.

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