National Institute on Aging

Black Scholar at the University of Nebraska Examines Family Hardship and Stress

Deadric-Williams-LgA new study led by Deadric Williams, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, finds that American families who face economic hardship or mental health issues when their children are young are highly likely to continue to struggle and have families that continue to live under a high level of stress.

Using data from a national longitudinal survey of 4,898 children and parents, the study suggests young parents who experience economic hardship early in their children’s lives are more likely to experience mental health problems and relationship distress.

Dr. Williams notes that “early hardship is associated with later depression and early depression is associated with later hardship, particularly among mothers. There is overwhelming evidence that single-parent families – usually mothers – are having hard economic times, which leads to poor health outcomes for themselves and their children.” Single-parent families headed by women are significantly more prevalent in the African American community than is the case for most other racial and ethnic groups.

Dr. Williams holds a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in sociology from Mississippi State University. He holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The study, “Economic Hardship, Parents’ Depression, and Relationship Distress Among Couples With Young Children,” was published in the July 2016 issue of Society and Mental Health. It may be accessed here.


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  1. Willetta Cooks says:

    It is good to see someone addressing the correlation between economic hardship and mental health in America and the significant impact for African American’s. There is much more work I hope to see from others particularly in relationship to the current tension between African Americans, those sympathetic to their experiences and those who protect all communities. I question if there is a similar relationship between those who experience economic prosperity and mental illness and if so could we be witnessing a need for improving mental health services to all.

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