Changes in mental health symptoms and sociocultural factors across the COVID-19 pandemic in mothers of Mexican descent

Kimberly D’Anna-Hernandez, Sandraluz Lara-Cinisomo, Amy Non

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Latinos have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in the US. Little is known about the lasting effects on mental health, particularly among mothers of young children, who historically report high levels of depression and anxiety. We examined if anxiety and depression symptoms worsened for mothers of Mexican descent across the pandemic and identified the role of sociocultural risk and protective factors on these changes. Mothers of Mexican descent (n = 141) with young children (ages 0–7) were administered surveys on mental health symptoms (anxiety and depression), stress-related sociocultural factors (perceived discrimination) before (pre-pandemic), within 3 months (early pandemic), and 18 months after the COVID-19 stay-at-home order (late pandemic). Another sociocultural factor, acculturative stress, was only measured pre-pandemic while during the later phase of the pandemic mothers reported their levels of loneliness, optimism, and coping styles. Repeated measures (RM) ANOVA demonstrated that depressive and anxiety symptoms as well as perceived discrimination increased from pre to early months of the COVID-19 pandemic and slightly lowered in late-COVID but did not return to pre-COVID levels. Two-way RM ANOVA showed that acculturative stress and perceived discrimination predicted worse mental health trajectories across the pandemic while moderations revealed that optimism buffered against, and avoidant coping increased the adverse effects of sociocultural factors on mental health. The effects of the COVID pandemic on mental health are lingering in mothers of young children; however, optimism may be a protective factor. The results also highlight the damaging effects of external factors, such as discrimination, on maternal mental health during times of crisis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)625-637
Number of pages13
JournalArchives of Women's Mental Health
Volume26
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2023

Keywords

  • Acculturative stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Discrimination
  • Latina
  • Pandemic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

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