Got children? Got concerns?
To be a parent is to fret. It’s part of the job.
Not much makes us more anxious than the health of our children.
Serious illnesses such as cancer. Long-term conditions like asthma or diabetes. Health, weight and diet. There’s so much to perturb parents.
Few things, however, worries us much more than our children’s mental health and emotional state. This is, according to the latest research, the chief concern for parents in the UK when it comes to the health issues that might impact upon our offspring.
This might come as a surprise to some, although given our insight into mental health (and all the associated issues), we’re far from shocked.
More than ever, parents are concerned about such things. Stress, anxiety, pressure, depression. Eating disorders. Self-harm. Cyberbullying. Suicide. Put it all into the pot and mix it up and it’s no wonder such things are preying on minds. This is a serious business and never has it been in such sharp focus.
Using YouGov figures, Action for Children found that, from 2,267 parents surveyed, 40% said that their children’s emotional wellbeing was their number one concern. More than serious illness. More than long-term health conditions. More than diet, weight, food intolerance and allergies. This might, at first glance, appear to be bad news for us as mental health professionals, but the findings can be interpreted in different ways.
For us, it demonstrates that, perhaps more than ever before, parents understand such issues. Things like stress, anxiety, pressure and depression are, at least, on the radar and being recognised. This is an important first step in beginning to address and resolve the resulting problems.
Mental illness usually thrives on ignorance and isolation and, the greater the awareness among parents, the better it usually is for all concerned. The simple fact that there is an ongoing discussion, and that people are talking about such matters openly, is something to celebrate. In the past, it might not have been the case.
Our advice to parents is this: Be aware. Understand the issues. Recognise the signs. Be approachable and open. Talk things through. Strive to understand. Provide the requisite support. Don’t be afraid to seek outside help.
You can have concerns, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but don’t worry. Help is at hand. Support is on offer. You don’t have to do it alone.
Talk. To us. To other health professionals. To a friend. To another parent. Find a confidante. Ask them to them listen. Don’t panic.
Mental health issues are a real cause for concern for parents at this particular moment in time; this we understand. But don’t let it fester. Do something about it. Seek support. Get help. www.childpsychiatryuk.com