Mental health and parenting in rural areas: an exploration of parental experiences and current needs.J Ment Health. 2014 Mar 3;
Authors: Cremers GE, Cogan NA, Twamley I
Background: Research on parental mental health problems (MHPs) has predominantly used urban samples and focused on the risks for children. Aims: The purpose of this study was to explore rural parents' lived experiences of parenting with a MHP. Method: Six semi-structured interviews were conducted with mothers who were using a mental health service in rural Ireland. Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was employed. Results: Themes identified were: "Being Observed and Negatively Judged by Others"; "Overshadowed by the Duality of Parenting and MHPs"; "Dominance of Medication Over Other Treatment Options"; "Uncertainty (of Impact on Parenting Ability and Children)" and "Need for Inclusion". Although parents' experienced a variety of concerns generic to parenting and mental health, living in a small, rural community was related to pronounced concerns regarding the stigma, devaluation and uncertainty associated with MHPs and service use. Conclusion: Further investigation into and consideration for the specific needs and experiences of parent service-users could benefit both parents and their families and inform service development.