Psychological Health from Financial Hardships



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Psychological Health from Financial Hardships on Single Parents






Brittney Marks






March 22, 2021




















Have you ever been a circumstance of not having the finances to support yourself or those you love? How did this make you feel? Do or did you feel like a failure or potentially an inconvenience to those love. Did the hinderance of not having financial support or mobility impact your mental health? Did you notice that your mental health got worse the more and more you subconsciously thought about your lack of financial mobility? The difficulty in trying to maintain responsibilities with lack of finances becomes a burden that many single parents encounter. Many parents develop psychological health issues because of Financial hardships. Psychological health creates dysfunction within the families’ relationships. Financial hardships make it difficult for single parents to gain the support that is needed to care for their self and their family. Throughout this paper I hope to prove that the lack of financial mobility has a negative impact on ones or family’s mental health. I hope throughout my research that I can prove or support the idea that mental health is impacted on the demand of being able to support yourself and those around you.

Having the responsibility to take care of those you love and yourself is a matter that is already overwhelming for an individual. Let’s imagine having to take care of yourself, your kids and their needs with little to no financial mobility. It becomes difficult to manage life responsibilities with the pressure of limited funds. In the article, “Interventions to reduce the impact of unemployment and economic hardship on mental health in the general population: a systematic review”, the authors reiterated that “Job loss, debt and financial difficulties are associated with an increased risk of mental illness, self-harm and suicide (Fitch et al.2011; Haw et al. 2015)”. They authors used multiple search engines and screened titles and abstracts and eligibility of full text reports. Cochrane Risk-of-Bias tool to investigate bias. Throughout their search they found that thousands of records supported their theory. They found studies that examined the effect of ‘job-club’ type interventions for unemployed people.

“A post-hoc subgroup analysis showed that the participants with higher risk of developing depression, based on the 25% of participants with highest baseline risk of depression, economic hardship and social assertiveness (Price et al. 1992) benefited most from the intervention (interaction: p = 0.01). In high-risk participants depression scores were reduced at 6 weeks [difference in means: −0.26, 95% confidence interval (CI) −0.48 to −0.04; interaction: F = 6.07 p = 0.01], 4 months (difference in means: −0.36, 95% CI −0.59 to −0.13; interaction: F = 12.14 p = 0.001) and 28 months (difference in means: −0.25, 95% CI −0.50 to 0.0; interaction: F = 6.05 p = 0.01) by up to almost 0.5 s.d. on the depression subscale of the Hopkins Symptom Checklist 90 (HSCL-90; see Table 2). JOBS I had no effect on employment at the same time points (see Table 3) (Caplan et al. 1989; Price et al. 1992; Vinokur et al. 1991a 1995a; Vanryn & Vinokur, 1992).”


Meredith and Stack also proved in their article, Financial hardship on single Parents that sleepless, frustration, and distress were common. One of their participants in the study described her feeling exhausted and “she felt and collapsing once the children had gone to bed. All of her energy had been devoted to caring for her children, and once they were asleep, she would spend the time alone in a state of distress which involved exhaustion, crying, feeling overwhelmed, and sleeplessness.”


Most single parents struggle with support medically and socially and tend to feel absent and alone from there surroundings. Single mothers suffer the most out of the single parents. In the article, Promoting Strengths and Resilience in single Mothers, Taylor and conger recognize how “Overall, single mothers tend to be more socially isolated than married mothers, work longer hours, receive less emotional and tangible support, and have less stable social networks (Harknett & Hartnett, 2011). Single mothers with lower perceived social support have higher levels of internalizing symptoms and poorer parenting behaviors (Kotchick, Dorsey, & Heller, 2005; Lee et al., 2009; Murry et al., 2001). However, internalizing symptoms decrease as social support increases (Turner & Brown, 2010), and social support can moderate the relation between stressors and depression (Kotchick et al., 2005; Lee et al., 2009). Single mothers with higher levels of perceived social support are also more involved and confident as parents, and have better relationships with their children (e.g., Lee et al., 2009).” They used three types of interventions and participants were low-income Caucasian and African American single mothers with younger children.

“A few researchers have specifically assessed the effects of social support and peer education groups in single‐mother populations. Lipman et al. (2007) found that low‐income single mothers with young children who participated in a 10‐week program of group sessions offering social support and education had significantly improved mood and self‐esteem at 3 months postintervention compared to the control group who received a standard list of community resources. However, differences in adjustment for participants and the control group were nonsignificant at the 20‐month follow‐up. Similarly, participants (majority low‐income African American and Caucasian single mothers with young children) who participated in a 13‐week parenting and self‐care group program (Mom Power) and attended more than 70% of the group sessions showed medium effects of reduced levels of depression, posttraumatic stress, and feelings of helplessness, particularly for those with the highest mental health risk (Muzik et al., 2015). Also important, the majority of participants stated that they had made social connections with other group participants.”


Single parents are forced to work certain jobs that makes it hard to coincide with the support needed to care for their children. Greene explains that “Like non-standard hours, many of the jobs that require on-call scheduling are the very low-wage jobs that poor single mothers tend to occupy.” I agree with her statement because the jobs that are convenient for mothers are hard to get because of some of the companies don’t want to have to deal with the complications of families. Greene used data from the 2012 National Survey of Early Care and Education, she searched different surveys about low income working parents and scholarly writings bout the work and economic mobility. Even used qualitative study of low-income working mothers to support her arguments.

The stress from the financial hardship doesn’t only impact the parent but the whole family. Unintentional negative behavior is exemplified and breaks down the relationships within spouses and children.  In the article, Clifford Stevenson, Sebastiano Costa, Juliet R.H. Wakefield, Blerina Kellezi, Rebecca J. Stack discussed “The depression and anxiety caused by economic pressure then impacts upon children within families. Spousal conflict can directly spill-over to negative interactions with children, but negative parental mood also predicts more coercive parenting, more hostile interactions, and less consistent discipline, all of which in turn are associated with negative developmental outcomes for children (Masarik & Conger, 2017). Children can also be affected by their awareness of family economic hardship, which serves to undermine their sense of self-efficacy and control, leading to greater emotional distress (Conger, Rueter, & Elder, 1999). “

As one can see, in the evidence and research provided throughout these articles we as readers and researchers can see that there is a correlation between the impacts of financial hardships on single parents more specifically single mothers. I hope we as readers a future leader in this world that we can initiate programs that focus on the aspect of financial poverty and how it ultimately contributes to mental health problems. This topic sparked my interest due to my passion of becoming a social worker. In my future career I want to be able to properly assist those who are struggling in poverty and possibly struggle with mental health issues. What can we as social workers do to assist with this issue? How can we prevent this issue? Programs that focus on financial stability of single parents and also focus on mental health issues such as the signs and treatments could help those overcome this struggle. Financial education programs that focus on saving and investing could also benefit. Overall, this research has opened my eyes to the problems that we still face in our world in respect to financial hardships and mental health. Research like this can give us the idea on what we can do better and how we can move forward to face these issues in our future careers.

















Clifford Stevenson, Sebastiano Costa, Juliet R.H. Wakefield, Blerina Kellezi, Rebecca J. Stack,

Family identification facilitates coping with financial stress: A social identity approach to family financial resilience,

Journal of Economic Psychology,

Volume 78,



ISSN 0167-4870,



Dziak, E., Janzen, B.L. & Muhajarine, N. Inequalities in the psychological well-being of employed, single and partnered mothers: the role of psychosocial work quality and work-family conflict. Int J Equity Health 9, 6 (2010).


Taylor, Z.E. and Conger, R.D. (2017), Promoting Strengths and Resilience in Single‐Mother Families. Child Dev, 88: 350-358.

SARA STERNBERG GREENE * (2019 – 2020). ARTICLE: Working to Fail. Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy, 27, 167.


Moore, T. H. M., Kapur, N., Hawton, K., Richards, A., Metcalfe, C., & Gunnell, D. (2017). Interventions to reduce the impact of unemployment and economic hardship on mental health in the general population: A systematic review.Psychological Medicine, 47(6), 1062-1084. doi:


SARA STERNBERG GREENE * (2019 – 2020). ARTICLE: Working to Fail. Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy, 27, 167. ARTICLE: Working to Fail, 27 Duke J. Gender L. & Pol’y 167, 170


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