Single Mothers, Poverty, and Mental Health Issues

The transition from youth to adulthood is a challenging stage that presents both economic and emotional challenges. The increase in teenage pregnancies, early marriages, and divorce has led to the high growth of single mothers with dependent children. According to a study by Radey and McWey (2021), single mothers account for 28% of the U.S. population living in poverty. In comparison, women are estimated to be 86% of all single parents in the U.K. who have dependent children (Stack & Meredith, 2017). I chose to discuss single mothers, poverty, and their mental health because it is an issue that has far-reaching effects, yet it has received little attention in the past. The mental state of a parent influences their children’s well-being. This implies that the health of society is influenced largely by single mothers’ well-being. In an economic crisis, single mothers with dependent children find it more challenging to access basic needs, which adversely affects their mental state.

Poverty is a critical issue that limits individuals’ health and psychological well-being. In a study conducted by Long et al. (2019), single mothers experience barriers to wellness and self-care attributed to poverty. Wellness has been described as a protective factor against psychological issues such as stress and depression. The research has shown that single mothers are more likely to suffer from poor mental health, anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders than other groups such as the partnered mothers. The impact of poverty on single mothers’ mental health also affects their children’s psychological development, according to Agnafors et al. (2019). The lack of social support and hard economic times pushes single mothers to seek informal safety nets whose changing availability puts them in psychological distress. This calls for the intervention of social welfare service providers, as illustrated by Martin (2018). Social welfare services can help single mothers and their children to navigate the challenges arising from poverty.


Agnafors, S., Bladh, M., Svedin, C., & Sydsjö, G. (2019). Mental health in young mothers, single mothers and their children. BMC Psychiatry, 19(1), 67-80. Web.

Long, S., Clark, M., Ausloos, C., Jacoby, R., & McGhee, C. (2019). The wellness and self-care experiences of single mothers in poverty: strategies for mental health counselors. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 41(4), 343-358. Web.

Martin, M. E. (2018). Introduction to human services: Through the eyes of practice settings (4th ed.). Pearson.

Radey, M., & McWey, L. (2021).Safety nets, maternal mental health, and child mental health outcomes among mothers living in poverty. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 30(3), 687-698. Web.

Stack, R., & Meredith, A. (2017). The impact of financial hardship on single parents: an exploration of the journey from social distress to seeking help. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 39(2), 233-242. Web.

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