Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department / School

Psychology, Sociology and Rural Studies

First Advisor

Abdallah M. Badahdah


Parents in particular, are disproportionately affected by the 2019 coronavirus pandemic and the lockdowns that followed. Parents had to find a way to balance work, teaching, and taking care of their kids when schools were forced to close for safety reasons. While changes in parents' mental health have been the subject of a number of studies, there have been no studies comparing the level of depression and anxiety experienced by parents with and without children below the age of 18 years in the United States. Data for this study came from Households Pulse Survey (HPS) (week 2 N = 41,996; week 38 N = 59833), an online survey assessing health-related behavioral outcomes as well as self-reported changes caused by COVID-19 that was completed by adults in the U.S. In the first analysis, the study found no statistically significant difference in self-reported scores for both anxiety and depression between parents/guardians with and without children below 18 years old in the household both at the early and later phases of the pandemic. However, a greater percentage of households with children reported experiencing anxiety, depression, taking mental health prescription medication, receiving professional mental health services, or seeking mental health services and not getting any during the pandemic. Using the same sample of respondents, the study determined in the second assessment that both anxiety and depression scores decreased over time. The study found a correlation between higher mean scores of depression and anxiety and the presence of children and adolescents below 18 years old in the household. However, shared stress factors affected this association. During and after the pandemic, parents/guardians living with children should receive assistance, as findings demonstrate.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Households -- Social aspects -- United States.
Parents -- Mental health.
Depression, Mental.
COVID-19 Pandemic, 2020- -- Influence.


South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright