Cost of living: the impact on children’s physical and mental health

Samantha Redgrave-Hogg
By Samantha Redgrave-Hogg,
updated on Mar 27, 2023

Table with calculator, pen, and paper

With almost one-quarter of parents of children under the age of 11 claiming that the cost of living has had a detrimental effect on their mental health, we take a further look and highlight some available support

Findings from a recent Save the Children/YouGov survey, covered by iNews show how rising living costs are impacting children in the UK physically and mentally. Nearly one-quarter (24%) of the parents surveyed say they are worried about their children’s mental health and one-fifth (17%) of those parents claim their children are suffering from physical health problems. Children living in households with an income of £30,000 or less are the worst affected, with 37% of parents saying their children’s mental health has been affected.

The online survey of 2,008 parents of children aged 11 and under highlighted some of the concerns parents are coming up against due to increased financial pressures. To cut back, parents are finding it difficult to keep up with days out and after-school clubs. And soaring household bills mean parents are buying cheaper food options with less variety. It also means families are living in colder, poorer conditions. This is negatively impacting the overall wellbeing of children; they are more likely to suffer from an increased number of colds and experience reduced sleep quality, for example.

The same survey revealed how parents are even turning down work or are being forced to cut working hours due to expensive childcare. Over half (54%) of mothers have cut their hours because they can’t afford to pay for childcare.

Becca Lyon, head of child poverty at Save the Children UK is calling on the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, to take action at tomorrow’s Spring Budget, urging the government to provide further support for struggling families.

“Parents are trying everything they can to put their children first, skipping their own meals, going without heating and their own essentials, but it’s clear families feel their young ones are suffering in such tough financial times.

“Jeremy Hunt should increase child-related benefits, alongside introducing childcare reforms that will support parents back into work.”

Where can parents find wellbeing support for their children?

More support is needed for families during this unsettling time but what can parents do to help their family's mental health?

  • If you are worried about your child’s mental health you can contact Young Minds for confidential guidance free of charge.
  • Visit the NHS website for children and young people's mental health services (CYPMHS)
  • Talk to your child’s teacher or GP They should be able to help your child access the right kind of support.
  • Access free advice from MoneyHelper. They have a range of tools and tips to help with the cost of living crisis.
  • Open up to trusted friends or family. Releasing the stress by talking to someone about how you are feeling and the worries you have for your child might help share the load.

Want to learn more about the impact of the cost of living? “Surviving the Pay Squeeze” aired on BBC One on Monday 20th March.

If you are struggling with any of these issues or would simply like to know more about the benefits of counselling, visit the Counselling Directory

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