Women with less education than their mothers risk poor mental health

January 9, 2013

(Medical Xpress)—Women with significantly lower levels of education than their parents are at higher risk of poor mental health, a new University of Queensland study has found.

UQ School of researchers, Dr Leigh Tooth and Professor Gita Mishra found the greater difference between parents, in particular a mother's education and her daughter's, the more chance the daughter will experience depression and other .

The researchers studied 5,619 women from the Australian Longitudinal Study of Women's Health, aged 31–36 years, measuring against the educational mobility – or differences – between women and their parents.

Dr Tooth said the study revealed, in comparison, daughters with an equivalent or higher level of education to their parents had better mental health.

"There was also an association between a father having a higher than his daughter, and her risk of poor mental health, however the mother-daughter association was stronger," Dr Tooth said.

She said a number of reasons could possibly explain the links.

"Prior research has found that a mother's education may have more impact on the outcomes of her children because she tends to be the primary in the pre-school years," she said.

"The more highly educated a mother is, the more likely she is to spend direct time with her children and provide them with an academically and educationally enriching care environment.

"Instances where daughters have poor mental health and highly educated mothers may possibly reflect pre-existing preventing the daughter from achieving academically.

"It may also reflect the underlying parent-daughter relationship, with previous research showing that the quality of same-sex relationships (i.e. mother–daughter, father–son) to have more influence on mental health outcomes in the offspring than the quality of different sex relationships."

Researchers also found a surprisingly high percentage of women did not know both parents' education levels.

"This could be because of family dysfunction or break-up, lots of moving or job changes, or illness," Dr Tooth said.

"It would be interesting to investigate this issue more deeply."

Researchers hope study findings may help health practitioners to better tailor health messages and interventions when working with women at risk of .

This study has been published in the journal Quality of Life and can be found at link.springer.com/article/10.1 … %2Fs11136-012-0310-8

Explore further: The parenthood paradox: Certain parenting beliefs are detrimental to mothers' mental health

Related Stories

The parenthood paradox: Certain parenting beliefs are detrimental to mothers' mental health

July 5, 2012
Does being an intense mother make women unhappy? According to a new study by Kathryn Rizzo and colleagues, from the University of Mary Washington in the US, women who believe in intensive parenting - i.e., that women are ...

Exploring how a parent's education can affect the mental health of their offspring

January 26, 2012
Could depression in adulthood be tied to a parent's level of education? A new study led by Amélie Quesnel-Vallée, a medical sociologist from McGill University, suggests this is the case.

Mental health of dads-to-be may influence toddler's behavior

January 7, 2013
(HealthDay)—Plenty of research has linked a mother's mental health during and after pregnancy with her child's well-being. Now, a new study suggests that an expectant father's psychological distress might influence his ...

Mothers are the most responsible in transferring of sexist attitudes

September 30, 2011
A study at the University of the Basque Country reveals a link between the sexist attitudes of mothers and that of her sons and daughters. Published this month in the magazine Psicothema, the results also link gender and ...

Recommended for you

Depression changes structure of the brain, study suggests

July 21, 2017
Changes in the brain's structure that could be the result of depression have been identified in a major scanning study.

Many kinds of happiness promote better health, study finds

July 21, 2017
A new study links the capacity to feel a variety of upbeat emotions to better health.

Study examines effects of stopping psychiatric medication

July 20, 2017
Despite numerous obstacles and severe withdrawal effects, long-term users of psychiatric drugs can stop taking them if they choose, and mental health care professionals could be more helpful to such individuals, according ...

Study finds gene variant increases risk for depression

July 20, 2017
A University of Central Florida study has found that a gene variant, thought to be carried by nearly 25 percent of the population, increases the odds of developing depression.

In making decisions, are you an ant or a grasshopper?

July 20, 2017
In one of Aesop's famous fables, we are introduced to the grasshopper and the ant, whose decisions about how to spend their time affect their lives and future. The jovial grasshopper has a blast all summer singing and playing, ...

Perceiving oneself as less physically active than peers is linked to a shorter lifespan

July 20, 2017
Would you say that you are physically more active, less active, or about equally active as other people your age?

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.