Record number of children living with parent in emotional distress

Sabrina Barr
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Record number of children living with parent in emotional distress

A record number of children are living with a parent suffering from emotional distress, data has shown.

According to new research conducted by Public Health England (PHE), 29 per cent of children in the UK are living with a parent who has exhibited symptoms of emotional distress.

This is the highest percentage to date since records on the topic first started being logged in 2010.

The data showed that mothers are more likely than fathers to report emotional distress, with more than a fifth of children in the UK living in a household with a mother struggling with the mental health issue.

In comparison, one in eight children in the UK live in a household with a father who has reported feeling distressed.

Around one in 28 children were found to be living in a household where both parents are in distress.

The data was gathered from an Understanding Society study of around 40,000 households in the UK between 2016 and 2017.

According to the survey, children have a greater likelihood of living with a parent suffering from emotional issues if both parents are out of work.

"Parental emotional distress can lead to mental health problems including anxiety or depression," says PHE with regards to the research.

"It is associated with an increased risk of later behavioural and emotional difficulties in children."

Dr Bernadka Dubicka, chairwoman of the child and adolescent faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, explains that the impact of the mental health of parents on their children cannot be underestimated.

"Mental distress among adults is clearly on the rise," Dr Dubicka says.

"Not every adult with emotional distress will have a mental health disorder, but many will.

"If we can treat their illness early, this could have significant positive effects on the wellbeing of their children."

Dr Dubicka added that employers need to be more aware of workers who are struggling with mental health issues so they can provide them with adequate support.

For mental health support, you can contact Anxiety UK on 03444 775 774 (helpline open Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 5.30pm), Mind on 0300 123 3393 (helpline open Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm) and Samaritans on 116 123 (open 24 hours, seven days a week).