Over the last few years, tens of thousands of Irish people have moved to other countries in search of better life. While there is nothing wrong with seeking greener pastures abroad, a recent study has shown that it has an adverse effect on the mental health of people left behind by their loved ones.
According to the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA), mothers of those who decided to emigrate to other countries have experienced increased depression and greater loneliness as compared to mothers whose children decided to stay in Ireland. According to the researchers from the Trinity College Dublin, their symptoms are similar to those who are experiencing grief.
In contrast, fathers aren’t as affected by their children’s decision to emigrate. With the exception of those aged over 65, fathers did not exhibit the same symptoms as their female counterparts.
Dr Irene Mosca and Professor Alan Barrett, the authors of the study, used three kinds of mental health measurements for the research: measurement of depressive symptoms, self-rated emotional/mental health, and feelings of loneliness. Then, they compared the answers of the respondents with parents whose children had remained in the country.
“Earlier studies on the impact of the recession in Ireland suggested that older people had been relatively insulated from many of the negative effects of the recession. Our report, however, shows a channel through which the recession has significantly affected the mental health and well-being of mothers in particular. Emigration is often discussed in terms of the people who leave, but our study shows that there are also real impacts on the people left behind,” said Dr Mosca
Aside from discovering the detrimental effects of emigration to the mothers of the Irish emigrants, the study has also found that parents of those who left the country are younger on average, more educated, and had better mental and physical health at Wave 1 of the TILDA study as compared to the parents of grown-up children who didn’t emigrate.
Professor Barrett, meanwhile, said the study suggest that we need to be more aware of the “pressures” older people are facing because of emigration. However, he did point out that the older people are not the only ones who are suffering from this phenomenon.
“There are public health implications from the large-scale exodus from Ireland in recent years. The recessionhasimpacted directly on the younger generation in terms of unemployment and mortgage default,” Barrett said.