A new study from the American Journal of Public Health finds a strong association between depression during a mother's postpartum year and subsequent homelessness and risk for homelessness. The study reviewed interview responses and medical records regarding depressive symptoms and homelessness status among 2,974 mothers before and after birth.
Data collected were a part of the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study that randomly selected birth logs from 75 hospitals in 20 U.S cities with populations over 200,000.
The study found that 13 percent of the women experienced depression during their postpartum year. Even among women who had no personal or family history of mental illness, depressive symptoms or housing insecurity, the researchers found a strong association between depression during the postpartum year and homelessness or risk of homelessness two to three years later.
"Overall our study provides robust evidence that maternal mental illness places families with young children at risk for homelessness, adds to the scant literature that elucidates directional and causal links between mental illness and homelessness, and contributes to a largely stagnant but important body of literature on family homelessness," the researchers explain.
- Marah A. Curtis, Hope Corman, Kelly Noonan, Nancy E. Reichman. Maternal Depression as a Risk Factor for Family Homelessness. American Journal of Public Health, 2014; e1 DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.301941
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