systematic review, there is evidence that parental leave prevents mental health deterioration, especially among mothers, and that this beneficial effect persists later in life. lancet public health.
Researchers from the Department of Public Health at Stockholm University and the Department of International Public Health at the Karolinska Institutet conducted a systematic review investigating the relationship between parental leave and parental mental health from an international perspective.
“Becoming a parent can be stressful for both parents. We tend to think about the big hormonal and physical changes that mothers go through, but the transition to parenthood can be stressful for couples. You have to think of it as stressful,” says Associate Professor Sol P Juárez. He is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Public Health Sciences at Stockholm University and the Principal Investigator of the study.
For example, parents face challenges related to childcare, career uncertainty, and economic pressures from declining incomes.
“This is probably why postnatal mental disorders are relatively common. It is said that typically 10-20% of mothers and up to 10% of fathers are affected. “We wanted to systematically examine and see all the scientific evidence that exists to determine whether parental leave can help alleviate mental health symptoms in parents,” said Juárez.
This review concludes that parental leave is effective in preventing mental health declines, including depressive symptoms, general mental health, psychological distress, burnout, and use of mental health care, especially for mothers.
“However, beneficial effects are associated with more generous parental leave arrangements, such as longer leave periods,” emphasizes Amy Heshmati, a doctoral candidate and lead author of the study.
Researchers searched five online databases up to 29 August 2022. A total of 45 studies were included in the study.
“This is the most comprehensive systematic review on this topic to date. We looked for associations with health, and we also investigated the indirect effects of one parent’s parental leave on the partner’s mental health,” says Amy Heshmati. says.
“An interesting finding is that not only are the beneficial effects observed immediately after childbirth, but these protective effects of parental leave can carry on later in the mother’s life,” said postdoctoral researcher and review author. says Helena Honkaniemi.
The father’s findings were inconclusive. Researcher Helena Honkaniemi says, “Although not much research has been done on fathers, this study suggests that parental leave policies that provide incentives such as adequate wage replacement and employment quotas can help fathers improve their mental health. It suggests that we have improved the
This review shows that generous parental leave may help reduce or prevent mental health symptoms, especially among mothers, a highly relevant finding from a policy perspective.
Impact of Parental Leave on Parents’ Mental Health: A Systematic Review, lancet public health (2023). www.thelancet.com/journals/lan … (22)00311-5/fulltext
Courtesy of Stockholm University
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