Much has been written about the ongoing global crisis in children’s mental health and how stress, anxiety and depression are affecting young people in record numbers. But what about the effects on parents of the children who are suffering, particularly now, in the wake of the pandemic? How has their mental health been affected and what does that mean for their productivity at work?
The Morgan Stanley Alliance for Children’s Mental Health (MSACMH), in collaboration with our U.K. partner organization, Place2Be, recently sponsored the City Mental Health Alliance (CMHA) to conduct a survey of U.K. parents1 . Among their findings:
- More than two-thirds (68%) of parents surveyed with children aged 9-18 have been concerned about their children’s mental health over the past two years.
- Of those parents expressing concern, 44% have had concerns about the mental health of more than one of their children.
- Half of concerned parents said that one or more of their children had experienced general anxiety.
- 13% reported concerns about their children engaging in self-harm, rising to 17% for parents of children aged 12 and over.
- Suicidal thoughts have been an issue for children of 12% of all concerned parents surveyed, while 4% reported that their child had attempted suicide.
Not surprisingly, coping with these concerns and issues has affected parents’ own mental health, to the point that their work productivity has suffered.
- 6 in 10 of parents reporting concern about their child(ren)’s mental health say that it has caused their own mental health to suffer. As one parent said, “Put simply, I am only as happy as my unhappiest child.”
- 48% of working parents who reported concern said their children’s mental health has impacted their performance at work in some way—including having to deal with disruptions and an inability to concentrate on the job.
- 12% of concerned working parents had considered reducing their working hours to support their child(ren), with 8% reporting they had even considered quitting their jobs altogether.
Based on these findings, the CMHA has developed a set of recommendations for employers to better support and retain employees who are coping with their children’s mental health issues.