Low-Income Mothers' Mental Health in the Context of Family Comorbidity
Schroeder, Allison Lee
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The present study utilized longitudinal ethnographic data from the Welfare, Children, and Families: A Three-City Study to analyze how low-income mothers construct meaning of and cope with mental health problems. The study focused on a subsample of 20 mothers with one or more mental health problems. Findings demonstrated the importance of family relationships and family comorbidity. Mothers often attributed mental health problems to problematic family relationships. Mothers also emphasized their children's health and well-being in assessing their own health. Their ability to care for their children shaped how they viewed themselves. A related feature of mothers' experience of mental health was cumulative disadvantage. Almost all of the mothers linked their mental health to one or more aspects of poverty. Finally, mothers employed a multiple strategies to cope with mental health problems, with mental health treatment being one strategy. Implications for research, policy, and clinical work were discussed.