Health Disparities in Single Mothers

This is FREE sample
This text is free, available online and used for guidance and inspiration. Need a 100% unique paper? Order a custom essay.
  • Any subject
  • Within the deadline
  • Without paying in advance
Get custom essay


Being a single parent comes with its own unique set of circumstances for health issues or concerns. A study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health examined data from 15 countries and found that women in the United States, Denmark, England, and Sweden are at an increased risk of developing adverse cardiovascular episodes, poor mental health, and have increased mortality.


The number of single parent families has been dramatically increasing over the last few decades. In 2009 it was estimated that 13.7 million parents were living in a single-parent household and around 83% of those are headed by females. Of those, 28.3 percent were living at or below the poverty level. The stress of being a single parent combined with the stress of living in poverty can overload an individual making it difficult to cope with new life stressors.

Financial stressors compose much of the stress for single-mothers irrespective of income. Even with health insurance- deductibles, copays, and coinsurance can sometimes be unaffordable especially if time of work is a requirement.

What Works


A four-year study found that, in a longitudinal relationship, depression occurring in employed women are 27% less likely than among unemployed women; there is also a significant relationship between the number of months of employment for a single mother and depression.

Welfare policies/programs; “work first” model

Single mothers will benefit from programs that focus on examining a woman’s mental health status before moving forward with employment, rather than simply applying for the sake of being employed.

Mental health networks within the government’s welfare system can reduce the concerns of mental illness in the workplace, displacing the cycle of depression in the workplace.

Social policies

Protecting mothers in more vulnerable situations (low income, less access to health care, less education) can improve the health of this population and reduce the stressors causing health disparities.

Additional findings can help others recognize that living as a single mother can have negative long-term effects on one’s health, shining a light on the fact that single mothers need more assistance.



Many local non-profits are aimed at reducing health disparities relating to being a single parent. Helping Hands for Single Moms mission is to assist low-income single mother families as the mother attains a college education, financial independence, and positive family legacy.

Interview- Helping Hands for Single Moms

  • How have families been impacted by your program?

This question may be difficult to answer succinctly however I will start by saying it should not come as a surprise that financially struggling single mothers need assistance as they further their education. Many entry level jobs do not satisfy the needs of an individual let alone a family and this becomes increasingly difficult with the goal of finding a career that fits a mothers skill set and interests allowing them to earn in a higher income bracket. This allows for a plethora of impacts to the women themselves, the children they raise, and the communities that they are a part of.

Attaining a healthy balance for families starts with the needs of each individual being met and Helping Hands has impacted many families by doing just that. When faced with these challenges, mothers on this journey find themselves sacrificing the level of nutrition they can afford, the quality of their living situation, their ability to have consistent quality childcare, and so much more. The unrestricted scholarship through Helping Hands of $270/month allows a family enough extra income to help with food, child care, utilities, transportation, or whatever the needs of the household are.

While $270 is helpful it is far from enough to cover the overall needs of a family. Helping Hands offers a variety of services that allow moms to get things such as haircuts, dental care, legal advice, and more without taking away from the unrestricted scholarship. This allows many women to worry less about less recurring expenses that stress an already tight budget, giving more time for their education and family. The impact of Helping Hands however goes far beyond that of monetary support and services, especially when a mother is preparing for graduation and thus the feeling of accomplishment and pride that goes along with such a great achievement. One of the most lasting and powerful impacts is the demonstration to her children that no matter how difficult something may seem it is possible when we do it together.

  • What programs do you offer to help single mothers?

Legal services, haircuts, financial help like budgeting, assistance with purchasing Christmas and Hanukah gifts, tow services, counseling, help with textbooks, even help getting a car. That is really just the tip of the iceberg, we have quite a lot to offer here.

  • Have you seen positive health changes in women that participate in your program? (Ex: reducing anxiety, reducing dependency on drugs or alcohol, reduce stress level, healthier eating habits, etc.)

We at Helping Hands have had the pleasure of a being part of a tremendous amount of positive changes in the women that participate in our program. First and foremost is the confidence instilled in each woman that then can be imparted on her children, the ones that surround her, through those she works with, or anyone she encounters. This ability to have confidence has allowed many women to find a calling that suits her individual strengths and talents both naturally and those learned. The transformation we have witnessed from this confidence is far reaching and can have a healing effect that sometimes transcends dependency on substances by giving new found purpose and meaning to a mother’s life. Often times anxiety, depression, and substance dependency go hand in hand, and with hope of a better life, can be more easily managed.

There are examples of those who have the need to better themselves but have few windows of opportunity to spread their wings and fly. Helping Hands has always had a mission of opening more windows for those driven to make a difference in themselves and the communities they are a part of. Since these transitions can take time to adjust to, it is common that even the “road bumps” are positive enough to keep motivation elevated in these women. A certain level of our program is predicated off being able to provide an environment that allows a clearer picture of the goal in mind. Part of this environment includes the education to make better choices in places such as nutrition and overall selfcare. Our counseling services have helped open the doors to newfound understanding and awareness of these women that encourages them to love themselves and take care of themselves holistically. In doing so we have seen many examples of healthier eating styles, practical application of when to spend more on food and how to make that effective for their households. When hope, motivation, confidence, and determination are nurtured the positive effects are profound.

  • I see your program has monthly meetings and featured events, what happens at these meetings and events? What are they aimed at achieving?

These meetings are designed to facilitate a space to increase awareness of the program and the services that we provide. We have fun activities like cornhole toss, football toss, banquets, and black jack. When possible, we like to feature an athlete or celebrity to provide someone who demonstrates determination and perseverance. These events also are an opportunity for mothers to socialize and find people that have similar interests and goals as their own. We recognize and appreciate the need for mothers to have a healthy social gathering place while in school and working. The overall goal is to keep motivation high, help mothers to feel like they can have something fun to do, and provide role models for these women. These are family friendly events which allows the mother to not be burdened by the need to find childcare.

  • How does Helping Hands generate funds to keep these programs going?

We have partnered with corporations that are financial supporters as well as church’s. We also get donations from the public and have charity banquets, 5k marathons, dinners and other events to raise funds. Our volunteers are what also help keep these services going. At Helping Hands, you can donate your time, money, or services. Doctors, optometrists, lawyers, auto repairmen, and other professions donate their services.


The most suggested solution in these findings is to incorporate more social welfare programs to assist single mothers. Just as Helping Hands for Single Moms assists in helping earn a better education, other programs are necessary as well to address the concerns of stable employment. Furthermore, the workplace environment is also important as research found that despite being employed, single mothers working at low-income jobs does not suffice in their need to support their families or their mental health. Research found that there is a cycle in the workplace where if a single mother is not being supported, they are more prone to mental illness, specifically depression, and they become unable to work, reeling back to becoming unemployed. Social and government assistance is the most likely solution to helping end these health disparities in single mothers.


Single mothers are bombarded by multiple stressors in their everyday lives. Several factors are affecting their health such as low income, less education, and less access to employment. All these factors lead to certain behaviors such as smoking and drinking, which increases one’s risk for cardiovascular disease; stress at home and the workplace can strain one’s mental health, which leads to depression. The goal of treating such health disparities in single mothers is to identify the root causes of these issues. Therefore, it is necessary to assist this population in attaining better employment and a better education, so that single mothers are not forced to resort to low-end jobs that do not support their families. This lack of support is the main cause of stress in single mothers, which only worsens one’s mental health. It is the role of society and the government to recognize that it is our responsibility to end these health disparities for those who are unable to help themselves.


  1. (n.d.). Retrieved November 16, 2018, from Helping Hands for Single Moms: https://helpinghandsforsinglemoms.org/
  2. Ajmera, R. (2017, Aug 14). The Effects of Poor Nutrition on Health. Retrieved from Live Strong: https://www.livestrong.com/article/518953-consequences-of-eating-junk-food/?ajax=1&is=1
  3. American Heart Association. (2018, Apr 18). Single-Parent and Working-Parent Heart Health. Retrieved from American Heart Association: https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/mental-health-and-wellbeing/single-parent-and-working-parent-heart-health
  4. Grall, T. S. (2011). Custodial Mothers and Fathers. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/p60-240.pdf
  5. Lisa F. Berkman, Y. Z. (2015, September). Mothering alone: cross-national comparisons of later-life. Retrieved from National Institute of Health: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4759498/pdf/nihms755373.pdf
  6. Maria Chiu, F. R. (2018, March 5). Mortality in single fathers compared with single mothers. Retrieved from The Lancet: https://www.thelancet.com/action/showPdf?pii=S2468-2667%2818%2930003-3
  7. McIntosh, J. (2015, May 15). Single Mother at risk of poorer health later in life, study suggests. Retrieved from MedicalNewsToday: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/293887.php
  8. Rapaport, L. (2016, June 16). Single motherhood tied to slightly raised heart disease risk. Retrieved from Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-women-heart-disease-idUSKCN0Z22KL
  9. Zabkiewicz, D. (2010) Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 45: 77. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-009-0044-2

Cite this paper

Health Disparities in Single Mothers. (2021, Oct 30). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/health-disparities-in-single-mothers/

We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Peter is on the line!

Don't settle for a cookie-cutter essay. Receive a tailored piece that meets your specific needs and requirements.

Check it out