Growing Up In Scotland: Maternal mental health and its impact on child behaviour and development

This document reports how many mothers in Scotland experience poor mental health in the first four years of their child’s life, as well as the characteristics of these women. It further shows the impacts of maternal mental health on child development and behaviour.


1 We use the term mental "health" rather than "well-being" as the instruments used in GUS to capture psychological health produce measures of "ill-health", not positive well-being.

2 Equally Well: Report of the Ministerial Task Force on Health Inequalities; Scottish Government, 2008:

3 Towards a Mentally Flourishing Scotland: The Future of Mental Health Improvement in Scotland 2008-11, Scottish Government, 2007:

4 The analysis in this report uses information from families in the Birth cohort that took part in the first four sweeps of GUS. All of the statistics have been subject to a specially constructed weight to adjust for non-response and sample selection. Both weighted and unweighted sample sizes are given in each table. Standard errors have been adjusted to take account of the cluster sampling.

5 The statistical analysis and approach used in this report represents one of many available techniques capable of exploring these data. Other analytical approaches may produce different results from those reported here.

6 This analysis was restricted to those women who were still in the survey at sweep 4. That is, that they completed an interview at sweeps 1 and 4 and, in the majority of cases, at both sweeps 2 and 3 as well.

7 Equivalised income is a measure that takes account of the number of people in the household

8 A fuller description of the analysis undertaken is included in Appendix B. The odds ratios from the regression model are included in Table B.1 in Appendix B. The interpretation of odds ratios is also explained in Appendix B.

9 For further information on the design of the Growing Up in Scotland study, please see the study website:

10 Six items from the Depression, Anxiety and Stress ( DASS) scale (Lovibond & Lovibond, 1995) were included in the self-completion section of the interview. DASS is available in a 42-item, or 21-item scale in full. We took 6 items: 3 measuring stress, and 3 measuring depression. These items can be combined to create a stress scale and depression scale. Standardized versions of the scales (z-scores) can be combined to produce a single scale measuring evidence of negative emotional symptoms in the respondent.

11 Depression during pregnancy and in the first 3 months after birth was also asked retrospectively, however numbers are much smaller than would be expected, which could relate to under-reporting or the retrospective nature of the question.

12 The DASS and MCS are scored in opposite directions i.e. a high score on DASS indicates a greater level of depressive symptoms, whereas a higher score on MCS indicates a lesser impact of mental health on quality of life, hence the negative correlations seen.

13 Bromley, C (2009) The impact of children's early activities on cognitive development. Scottish Government.

14 Please note, not all variables were entered into the model simultaneously.

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