Adults’ self-reported physical and mental health are important indicators of well-being. The health of primary caregivers can play a role in the well-being of children. The 2017 Child Well-Being Survey (CWBS) asked parents and guardians in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky several questions about their own physical and mental health and emotional resources.
When raising a child, parents and guardians benefit from having their own source of emotional support.1 To assess emotional support among parents in our region, the CWBS asked, “During the past 12 months, was there someone you could turn to for day-to-day emotional support with parenting or raising children?” More than 9 in 10 parents (92%) in our region said they have emotional support. Fewer than 1 in 10 parents (7%) did not have emotional support.
This question was also asked by the National Survey of Children’s Health in 2016. Nationwide, 75% of parents reported that they had someone who provided day-to-day emotional support, 2 less than locally.
CWBS asked parents and guardians, “In general, how is your physical health?” Nearly 5 in 10 adults (48%) rated their own health as excellent or very good. Just fewer than 4 in 10 (37%) rated their health as good, and just more than 1 in 10 (14%) rated their health as fair or poor.
In 2016 the National Survey of Children’s Health asked a similar question about the physical health of mothers and fathers. The percentage of mothers nationally who reported excellent or very good physical health (70%) was much higher than the percentage of female caregivers who reported excellent or very good physical health (47%) locally. Similarly, the percentage of fathers nationally who reported excellent or very good physical health (72%) was much higher than the percentage of male caregivers who reported excellent or very good physical health (52%) locally.
CWBS also asked, “In general, how is your mental or emotional health?” More than 6 in 10 adults (65%) reported excellent or very good mental zealth. That compares with nearly 3 in 10 adults (26%) who reported good mental health and fewer than 1 in 10 adults (8%) who reported fair or poor health.
Responses varied by gender. About 6 in 10 female parents and guardians in our region (63%) reported excellent or very good mental health, lower than results in the nation (77%). Over 7 in 10 male parents and guardians in our region (74%) reported excellent or very good mental health, lower than results in the nation (81%).2 In both national and local results male parents were more likely than female parents to report excellent or very good mental health.
The parents and caregivers in our region who reported that they had a person to turn to for emotional support were more likely to report excellent or very good physical and mental health than adults who did not. (See graphs.)
CWBS found connections between parent health and child health. More than 5 in 10 parents and guardians who reported that their child was in excellent or very good physical health also reported that they themselves were in excellent or very good physical health (56%). Conversely, fewer than 2 in 10 parents and guardians reported themselves in excellent or very good health if their child was in good health (17%) or fair or poor health (11%).
These questions remind us that we cannot address the health of children in isolation. The health of the child is inextricably linked to the health of the family. To support children’s health, it may be useful to ensure that parents and caregivers have opportunities to receive the support they need to be mentally, physically and emotionally healthy.
1 Ozbay, F., Johnson, D.C., Dimoulas, E., Morgan, C.A., Charney, D., & Southwick, S. (2007). Social Support and Resilience to Stress. Psychiatry 4(5): 35-40.
2 Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health. (2016). National Survey of Children’s Health – Child and Family Health Measures – Physical, Oral Health and Functional Status – Prevalence of Current Health Conditions. Retrieved from
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