Almost one in three parents (32%) admit that they would worry that it would make them look like a bad parent if their child had a mental health problem

17th February 2016 By: Conrad Colson

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A new New HuffPost UK survey reveals that almost a third (32%) of parents questioned admitted that they would worry it would make them look like a bad parent if their child(ren) had a mental health problem.

This was as high as 40% for those living in London. The figure was also higher in mothers, with over a third (35%) admitting this compared with just 29% of fathers.

The survey of 1,000 parents was carried out by You Gov for the Huffington Post. Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families experts offered advice on the questions and a definition of mental health.

The research comes as HRH, The Duchess of Cambridge, guest edits The Huffington Post UK today, Wednesday 17th February, as part of her continuing work to highlight the importance of children's mental health. The Duchess will help launch “Young Minds Matter” an exclusive editorial series that aims to inspire families and teachers to lead the conversation with children about mental health.

The research also reveals that two-thirds (66%) of parents with children aged 18 and under think children today in general are more susceptible to mental health problems than when they were a child. Of this group, over four-fifths (81%) think this is due to increased exposure to social media and 69% think this is down to the pressures of, and exposure to, body image.

Almost a quarter (24%) of parents worry that their child aged 18 and under suffers from a mental health problem. And of those who answered the survey, 66% think children today in general could be more susceptible to mental health problems than when they were a child.

Of those who agreed, the main reasons given were:

1.            More exposure to social media (81%)

2.            More pressure of/ exposure to body image (69%)

3.            More pressure of schoolwork (49%)

4.            Children today are more isolated socially than they used to be (47%)

5.            Schools have generally changed (33%)

6.            Parent/ children relationships are not as close as they used to be (29%)

The issues that parents were most personally worried about for their child(ren)'s mental health were:

1.            Exposure to social media (47%)

2.            Pressure of/ exposure to body image (35%)

3.            Their child(ren) being isolated socially (31%)

4.            Pressure of schoolwork (30%)

5.            Schools having generally changed (14%)

6.            Not having a close relationship with their child(ren) (10%)

Peter Fonagy, Chief Executive of the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, said “Childhood is changing and the nature adverse childhood experiences is changing. In some ways it is tougher to be a child these days. As parents, we ask children to bear considerable responsibility for their lives. Yet, we spend less time with them on the whole compared to 50 years ago. The internet is no substitute for a family conversation where we find out about their lives, their thoughts and their feelings and where they learn about our concerns. Worrying about excessive internet use is appropriate. But do we worry enough about spending enough time with our children as we live our busy 21st Century lives?”

Stephen Hull, Editor-in-Chief of The Huffington Post UK, said: “The research reveals that there has never been a more important time to talk about mental health with young people. At The Huffington Post UK, we are aiming to open up a dialogue about these very real concerns and remove the stigma surrounding mental health problems in children,, which is why we are thrilled that The Duchess of Cambridge, will join our team for a day to guest edit HuffPost UK and help launch our ‘Young Minds Matter’ initiative.”

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