Maternal mental health



To investigate the prevalence and determinants of mental ill-health in mothers caring for a son or daughter with learning disabilities, both overall and at different stages of the caregiving trajectory, including after the death of a son or daughter with learning disabilities (post caregiving).


This ESRC funded project will take advantage of Scotland's rich informatics environment and datasets to benefit mothers caring for a son or daughter with learning disabilities and mothers post caregiving, through data linkage and secondary analysis of routinely collected health data. We will link datasets that tell us about: mothers self-reported mental ill-health (Scotland's Census 2011); use of medications for depression and anxiety (Prescribing Information System) and; hospital admissions for mental ill-health (Scottish Morbidity Records). It is also important to identify possible reasons for mental ill-health (e.g. socio-economic factors such as household structure, employment status, number of children in household), so these can be addressed.


Linking these datasets will allow us to investigate how common mental ill-health is in mothers caring for a child, adult or older adult with learning disabilities or post caregiving, and additionally, compare this with matched women who do not have this caring role. The proposed study provides a highly cost effective method to address important and overdue questions on mental ill health and will subsequently provide evidence to inform professionals to support mothers at pivotal points in the caregiving trajectory including post caregiving. It will also provide valuable insight on the impact of the broader social context on mental ill-health.

Assessing the mental health of parents caring for a son or daughter with learning disabilities: secondary data analysis of Scotland’s Census 2011



An increasing number of parents in the United Kingdom (UK) are continuing to care for their son or daughter with learning disabilities over a prolonged period of time. While caregiving can be an extremely positive and rewarding experience, it can also have a negative impact on the general and mental health of parent carers. To date there has been a gap in the research which looks at the health of this group of adults in Scotland. By analysing Scotland’s Census 2011, we can identify the general and mental health of parent carers. This is now possible as Scotland’s Census 2011 provides information about long-term problems, including learning disability, which provides a unique opportunity to analyse data about the whole population of people with learning disabilities and their carers’.

Aims and Objectives

This study will help us to better understand the general and mental health of parent carers of a son or daughter with learning disabilities. With this information, parent carers can be provided with the right information at the right time about the supports available locally and nationally and the range of help to support them (including training and advice) to look after their son or daughter with an learning disability and access professionals who can help them, all of which is highlighted in Scotland’s Keys to Life strategy.

A poster on this project can be viewed below.