Parents Worry over Children's Mental Health

Wednesday, 07 January 2015

Research shows that parents are more likely to worry about the mental wellbeing of their child over any other health issue.

Action for Children surveyed 2267 parents, 40% of which said their biggest concern was the emotional wellbeing of their children.

Action for Children wants to prevent major problems by providing families with more early support.

Chief executive Sir Tony Hawkhead believes that spending time and money on the prevention of a problem, rather than on damage repair, is the best action to take. He says that, with the council facing fund reductions, they are calling for a shift in funding towards early support that will aid in preventing major issues from developing.

YouGov conducted online interviews with 9015 adults across Britain. 2267 of these had children aged 18 or younger.

The results suggested that fathers were not as likely as mothers to worry about the emotional and mental wellbeing of their children, with 32% of them highlighting it as a major area of concern. This is compared with 47% of mothers.

32% of the parents taking part in the survey said that they were concerned over their children's weight and diet, while 21% were worried about serious illnesses such as cancer. 20% had concerns about long term health conditions like diabetes or asthma, and 10% worried about food intolerance and allergies.

The differences in concern between mothers and fathers were most marked on the subject of mental health. However, mothers held more concern over their child's eating habits and weight than fathers did (37% compared with 27%).

However, one father from Hampshire insisted that parents should ask for help if they are worried about their children. The father, who was 24 years old at the time of the study, had separated from his partner and this had caused his son to feel anxiety. This led to difficulties with the child's behaviour.

Staff at the children's care centre helped this father gain more confidence, helping him through parenting courses so that he could better support and understand his son.

Sir Tony feels that children's centres could help children to access an environment that promotes positive emotional wellbeing. He maintains that giving families the support they need early on can make a huge difference in their lives, helping children to really reach their potential.

The Local Government Association represents local authorities throughout the country. A spokesperson from the LGA said that councils play a vital role in making sure that families get the help they require as soon as possible.