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Survey Shows Millions Of UK Parents Struggling With Their Mental Health

A new survey reveals that many more parents are struggling with their mental health than first imagined. My Mind News investigates.

Shocking survey results

Millions of parents in Britain are struggling with their mental health, a survey suggests, amid the rising cost of living, a lack of childcare, and fewer support services. 61% of respondents revealed concerns about their mental health, with those on lower incomes most likely to be affected, a poll for the charity Unicef UK found.

Parents variously said they had felt overwhelmed (49%), anxious (43%), unsupported (36%), and lonely (26%) all or a lot of the time in the past 12 months. Meanwhile, 70% of parents with babies and young children said it was getting more complex every year to be a parent in Britain, and 70% felt that being a parent today was more complicated than it was for their parent’s generation.

The figures come from a YouGov survey for the charity of 2,661 parents of children aged four and under in Britain in July.

What do the results tell us?

The rising cost of living (83%) was the most common reason parents felt it was harder to be a parent now. More than two-thirds (68%) of parents said it was harder due to a lack of childcare, 64% felt there was less time to spend with children, and 41% said there were fewer local support services. Parents also said housing costs (78%) and the dangers of social media (75%) made parenting harder for their generation.

Two-thirds (68%) of respondents said they believed the government was not doing enough to support them as parents of young children. 30% of parents reported working longer hours in the past year due to increased financial pressures, with 37% having less time to read, play, and cook healthy meals with their children.

Revealing the survey results, Jon Sparkes, the chief executive of Unicef UK, told The Guardian newspaper,

“This lack of support for families falls at a critical stage in babies and young children’s development, threatening life chances and piling more and more pressure on families. These findings provide a stark snapshot into the reality for many families with babies and young children right now – worried for their children’s future, struggling to make ends meet, and left feeling anxious, alone, and unsupported.

Mr Sparkes continued,

“It is vitally important that families can access basic services like maternity care, health visits, mental health support, affordable and high-quality childcare, and support for special educational needs and disabilities (Send). While essential for all, these services can provide a lifeline for families struggling financially and/or with their mental health.”

Societal inequality is a real issue

The research also highlighted stark inequalities, with 94% of the poorest households reporting that the cost of living crisis had a negative impact on family life, compared with 78% of all parents with young children.

On this issue, Mr Sparkes said,

“The fact that it’s the most disadvantaged families who are struggling more and who are least likely to have accessed support means we risk cementing inequalities in children’s lives before they’ve even picked up a pencil. Urgent government action is needed to address the gaps to stop families slipping through the net and to safeguard our babies and children’s futures.”

In Summary

The results of this Unicef UK survey re-enforces what we might already know. That is, families are struggling for a whole number of reasons currently, and parents are bearing the brunt of the pressure most of all.

But it is also worth considering that the assistance needed urgently now has potentially two-fold benefits – helping families to negotiate their way through the minefield of issues faced nationwide currently, but also providing a benefit for today’s young, bearing in mind that they will be the parents, carers, householders, and wage earners of tomorrow.

What are your thoughts on the survey results published by Unicef UK today? Tell us more in the comments.

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