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Working mothers suffering 'unmanageable' levels of stress

Abigail Fenton
Photo: Tim Gouw/Unsplash
Almost half of all working mothers experience anxiety when comparing themselves with others, according to a study. Photo: Tim Gouw/Unsplash

An “alarming’ number of working mothers in the UK are silently suffering from psychological problems, a study suggests.

A survey of 2,000 working mothers by Smart TMS found over a third (34%) suffer “unmanageable” levels of anxiety and stress due to the pressure caused by a job and taking care of children.

Almost half (46%) experience severe anxiety when comparing their ability to work and take care of their kids to others.

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On top of this, Britain’s "social safety nets" may no longer be as effective as they used to, with many mothers feeling like they are unable to share their struggles with people close to them for fear of judgement.

Over a quarter (27%) of working mums said they feel unable to share their mental health struggles with friends, family or colleagues, for fear of being negatively judged with regard to their competence as an employee or mother.

And while a quarter (24%) would like to see someone about their mental health, they worry that treatment would take too long and negatively impact their work or childcare responsibilities, while one in five (19%) can not take time off work to seek help.

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And a third even said they are too busy to so much as think about their mental well-being, despite having constant symptoms of depression or anxiety.

Worryingly, a quarter admitted to using material possessions or other vices in an attempt to fill an emotional void caused by depression, some of which they can’t afford and bring about debt.

The data suggests the pressures of childcare, along with the stress and effort necessary to assure professional success can have a severe effect on the state of one's mental health.

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Gerard Barnes, CEO of Smart TMS, said: "The effort required to care for and bring up a son or daughter is considerable; when you add the strain of a professional career to this, it's not hard to imagine how the mental health of working mothers could be affected.”

He added: “I would encourage all mothers or mothers-to-be, who intend to simultaneously achieve new career heights, to take the time to consider their resources, desires and motivations. They must ensure they are aware of the potential health consequences.

“It is also vital for working mothers to understand that they are just as prone to depression than anyone else, if not more so, and should ensure they have a strong support network and treatment options available if needed.”