Mental health is something that generally deserves more awareness. Despite long strides in attacking the social stigmas associated with mental health conditions, there is still a lot of good work to be done in educating the general population regarding mental health risks and concerns.
Some parts of the population are more at risk for certain mental health issues than others. For example, single mothers are divorced mothers have an increased risk for depression and anxiety. Mothers of newborn babies are particularly susceptible to the mental health known as perinatal depression or postpartum depression.
What Is Perinatal Depression?
Perinatal depression – also known as postpartum depression – affects pregnant mothers during the first year following childbirth. According to the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), 12-15% of mothers are affected by perinatal depression, with some estimates reaching 20% or higher in certain areas of the country.
Significantly, postpartum depression can negatively impact the bond between mother and child, hindering infant attachment and potentially leading to developmental conditions that may last into the child’s adolescence.
Risks Factors for Depression & Anxiety
Beyond perinatal depression, single mothers and divorced mothers generally are more at risk of depression and anxiety than married mothers, due to the additional responsibilities assumed in the absence of the child’s father.
The following are risk factors that can lead to or exacerbate the following symptoms:
- Sleep deprivation
- Insufficient self-care
- Unhealthy emotional dependence
- Financial difficulties
Protecting Against Depression & Anxiety
Education is one of the greatest factors that can contribute to preventing and protecting against depression & anxiety for mothers. Family support structures are the first line of defense when it comes to combatting the effects of depression and anxiety. For single and divorced mothers, family support structures do not necessarily have to come from the child’s father. Siblings and parents can serve as a significant protective factor in the fight against depression and anxiety.
Furthermore, professional health care and therapeutic interventions are crucial aspects of protecting against depression and anxiety. Medical professionals such as obstetricians, pediatricians, psychiatrists can help a mother cope with mental health issues that follow childbirth and arise from environments where the child’s father is absent. Therapeutic interventions like cognitive-behavioral therapy can help mothers cope with the hardships of raising a child while combatting against mental health conditions.
Mental Health and the Law
The mental health condition of a parent is a significant factory in child custody determinations. Courts legally required to assess certain factors to determine the best interests of a child when deciding issues affecting child custody. Given the fact that depression and anxiety can affect the bond between a mother and her child and potentially endanger the child’s healthy development, it is conceivable that a court can consider a mother’s mental health in a way that does not favor her full custodial rights. If the mother’s condition would endanger or disrupt the child’s healthy development more than restricting her custodial rights, a court could use the fact of her mental health against her. This outcome can be addressed by addressing the public as a whole about how to prevent, treat, and understand the truth about mental health disorders.
Consult an Experienced Attorney from The Virga Law Firm, P.A.
If you need legal advice about aspects that can affect your divorce – such as the intersection between mental health and child custody determinations – you should consult an experienced legal professional from The Virga Law Firm, P.A. for advice. Our legal team is committed to providing you with compassionate legal advocacy with personalized attention to the unique aspects of your case and your individual needs.
Call The Virga Law Firm, P.A. at (800) 822-5170 or contact us online today for a consultation about your legal rights and options.