Child Care Provider Well-being: Relationship Between Mental Health and Work
The purpose of this study is to examine child care providers’ help seeking behaviors and barriers to mental health treatment. There are almost 25,000 childcare providers in Texas serving over one million children a year (DFPS). Given the numbers of children receiving care outside their homes, attention must be paid to the mental health of non-family child care providers. As an example, high stress levels of child care workers lead to negative consequences for children (Curbow et. al., 2000). To ensure children are receiving high quality care, it is necessary for research and public discourse about the need and support systems to be available for child providers.
Research has examined sources of job stress, job turnover and job satisfaction among child care providers (Curbow et. al., 2000). However, little research has examined the mental health of child care providers despite evidence that providers have high rates of depression (Fish, 2005). In fact, personal care workers, including child care providers, report the highest levels of depression compared to workers in any other occupational category (SAMSHA, 2007). Notwithstanding substantiated levels of depression, there is a scarcity of in depth information on child care provider mental health and factors that determine if a provider will seek mental health treatment or other support.
While services exist to support providers in mitigating mental health needs of children in their care, there are few support services designed to support child care provider’s mental health issues and work related stress. Given the lack of information available on this topic, it is pertinent that research and discourse focus on providers to guide the development of appropriate mental health support services and ultimately improve the quality of child care.