A third of parents are embarrassed to seek mental health support for their children

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Almost a third (29%) of parents admit they would feel embarrassed if their child wanted counselling, and 34% feel other parents would judge them, according to new research published by Place2Be to coincide with Children’s Mental Health Week. 

The findings of the survey of 1029 parents of children aged 5 – 18 years reveal that despite greater awareness and successful anti-stigma campaigns over the past six years, there is still work to be done. Attitudes among parents remain largely unchanged since the first Children’s Mental Health Week in 2015, when 30% of parents reported they would be embarrassed if their child wanted counselling.  

In the latest survey, dads were more likely to feel uncomfortable (37% said they’d feel embarrassed, compared to 22% of mums), which also reflects very similar results in 2015 (38% vs 23%)

The pandemic has undoubtedly taken its toll. Almost one in six (15%) parents rated their child’s mental health as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’, and 31% said it is ‘worse’ or ‘much worse’ than before the pandemic. Despite the stigma, half (50%) of parents said the pandemic has made them more likely to encourage their child to have counselling if they need it. 

Catherine Roche, Chief Executive of Place2Be, said: “This Children’s Mental Health Week, at a time when we really need to draw on our resilience and emotional wellbeing, we’re encouraging families and schools to have a conversation about mental health. Creativity and expressing ourselves and our individuality creatively can be a great way to do this.  Parents and schools play a crucial role in teaching children that it’s ok to ask for help. Although we’ve made progress in recent years, these results show there is still some way to go. We all have mental health and we need to nurture it, particularly during these challenging times.” 

The research commissioned by Place2Be also revealed that:

  • Around half (53%) of parents think their child’s school is ‘good’ or ‘very good’ at supporting children’s mental health and wellbeing – both generally and during the pandemic 
  • Over half of parents think the staff and leadership team in their child’s school need more training on how to support children’s mental health and wellbeing (56% and 54% respectively)
  • A third (33%) don’t know who is in charge of mental health and wellbeing at their child’s school.

This year’s Children’s Mental Health Week is supported by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery and The Beaverbrook Foundation. 

Laura Chow, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery said: “Mental health support is vital for children, especially in the current climate. I’m pleased that support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery is helping charities like Place2Be reduce the stigma around counselling for children, and spreading the word that asking for help is okay.” 

Charlotte Aitken, Trustee of the Beaverbrook Foundation said: “The Beaverbrook Foundation is thrilled to support Place2Be’s Children’s Mental Health Week. Now more than ever before it is essential that we nurture the next generation’s wellbeing and give them the tools and skills to look after their mental health. We hope this week raises much needed awareness of the pressing issues children and schools are facing right now."  

Our advice on supporting your child's mental health >> 

Free activity ideas for parents and carers >> 

Free mental health training for teachers and school staff >>

3 February 2021
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