Looking at Life Different: Equitable Mental Health Support for Young Adult Parents

In this newest brief on mental health and young adults, CLASP examines the unique challenges of young parents. The brief draws from focus groups we held with rural and urban African American young parents in North Carolina and Alabama, urban Native young parents in Colorado and Maryland, and Latina young parents in Texas and California

Young adults (ages 18-24) who are parents are twice as likely to live in poverty as young adults without children, and young adults living in poverty experience high rates of psychological distress. Young people at the intersection of parenting, young adulthood, and economic marginalization draw on unique strengths and face specific challenges as they navigate these converging experiences.

Looking at Life Different: Equitable Mental Health Support for Young Adult Parents explains how we can best help young parents by recognizing parenthood as a valued, central identity that can spur growth and development in other key areas. Our conversations with young adult parents of color surfaced two unique forms of trauma: infant mortality and amplified environmental stress in the context of raising children. We also surfaced two striking types of chronic stress: deferring dreams and goals in favor of meeting immediate needs and stress linked to policy and program barriers. Finally, young parents identified three particularly important sources of support: their child’s other parent, the broader community, and resources that help them meet basic needs. Our conversations with young parents suggested a substantial mismatch between their needs and available systems of support.

We close the brief by offering recommendations for policymakers, program leaders, advocates, and others involved in supporting the mental health of young adult parents.

To learn more, read this brief by Nia West-Bey.