Mental wellbeing of children among parents’ biggest worries
Children’s mental health is amongst the greatest concerns parents have for their children, on par with physical health and academic performance, according to a new study.
The survey of more than 1,000 UK parents with children from 4-18 years old asked parents to share the level of worry they put on a number of factors for their children. One in seven parents said they “worry a lot” about their child’s mental health, physical health and academic performance. 19% said they worried a lot about their child’s future financial prospects, which was the only concern that ranked higher than mental health, physical health and academic performance, according to the study commissioned by Bupa.
Most of the parents surveyed recognised that there is greater awareness of children’s mental health now than when they were growing up, and parents said they talk to their children about emotional health and wellbeing more than their own parents did to them.
“Increasing awareness of mental health may cause worries and concerns, but there's a positive side to this: with this awareness comes a greater ability to help and support your child,” a spokesperson for children's anti-bullying charity Kidscape told Happiful.
“From an early age, talk to your child about feelings, give names to feelings and talk about ways of expressing feelings appropriately. Talk to them about what's going on in their lives, and let them know they can ask for your help. Build their confidence and self-esteem, valuing what makes them ‘them’. If your child is in a difficult place, work with them to guide and support them through the situation. You're not powerless in helping your child.”
Parents surveyed said triggers such as bullying - both physical and online - as well as pressure to succeed at school and moving to a different school or social circle are also impacting their children’s mental health.
“Being bullied can lead to anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicidal ideation. However, bullying does not inevitably lead to mental ill-health, and there is hope. Being on the same team as your child if they’re being bullied and working with them to solve the problem can help immeasurably,” Kidscape said.
“In Kidscape’s work with children and families experiencing bullying, we’ve found that nine out of 10 children who attend one of our anti-bullying and confidence-building workshops see lasting improvements to their mental health. Dealing with the bullying and building self-esteem makes a difference. If you need help with bullying, please ask for it: you’re not alone.”
If your child’s mental health is being negatively affected, counselling may help. Visit Counselling Directory to find a counsellor near you who specialises in children’s mental health or have a look at their free resources on the topic.
Bupa, which commissioned the study, have created a children’s mental health guide to empower parents who are worried about their child’s mental health.