Children’s mental health is parent’s greatest concern

Research published this week by the charity Action for Children, has shown that parents in the UK are concerned about their children’s mental health more than any other health problems.

The charity works with children and their families in their children’s centres to improve the ability of families to cope with stressful events and situations.

Of the 2,000 parents who took part in the survey, 40 per cent reported worrying about the mental health of their children. Mothers were more likely than fathers to have concerns about their children’s emotional wellbeing, with 47 per cent of those polled claiming they were worried their children’s mental health, compared to 32 per cent of fathers.

Parents also worried the most about their children’s diet and weight (32 per cent) and the risks of them suffering from serious illnesses (21 per cent).

Additionally, the charity have found an increase in demand for their services in supporting children with poor mental health and wellbeing compared to the previous year. Government research has found that ten per cent of children ages between five and 16 have a diagnosed mental health problem.

The effect of divorce on the wellbeing of children has been widely examined, as it can be a traumatic event in a child’s life. Parental conflict and separation can have significant detrimental effects on the child’s mental health, which can become long-term. Childline report that one of the most common reasons for children making contact with them is their distress during parental separation or divorce. They saw a significant rise in calls of this type during 2014.

Children’s organisation Cafcass warn that emotional harm can come to children if they are to become caught up in adult disputes. They can be forced into playing the roles of messenger, witness, spy or judge between their parents. They often witness rows and disputes between their parents which will cause them to act out in other ways, often in the school environment.

Elizabeth Gallagher, head of the family law department at Macks Solicitors, said: “The effect of a relationship breakdown on children is particularly detrimental if their parents are unable to agree about the arrangements for their children. Many parents think that they are acting in the best interests of their children by arguing over the time spent with each parent, but are often failing to prioritise their children’s interests over their own. Parents should try to look at the bigger picture; if arrangements for children are made by consent, and a child visits one parent with the support of the other, that child will be happier and more secure, ultimately growing into a well-adjusted adult.”

Action for Children

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