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Number of children with emotionally distressed parents hits an all time high, study shows

Public Health England finds one in three kids have parents suffering from anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues

THE number of children living with a parent in emotional distress is at a record high, figures revealed today.

Almost one in three children in Britain lives with a parent that shows symptoms of emotional distress, such as anxiety and depression, the highest proportion since records began in 2010.

Children were more likely to live with a parent reporting emotional problems if both parents were out of work, the analysis of 40,000 households by Public Health England (PHE) found.

More than half of all children living in families where neither parent was in work had at least one parent reporting symptoms of emotional distress.

This is compared to 26 per cent of children living in families where at least one parent was in work.

For lone-parent families where the parent was not in work, 37 per cent of children had their parent reporting distress. Where the parent was in work, the figure was 34 per cent.

Mothers are much more likely to report emotional distress, with more than one in five children living in a household where the parent was suffering.

This compares with around one in eight children living in households where the father was the one distressed.

About one in 28 children now live in a household where both parents are reporting emotional distress.

PHE said that parental emotional distress can lead to mental health problems including anxiety or depression, which is then associated with an increased risk of later behavioural and emotional difficulties in children.

Royal College of Psychiatrists’ child and adolescent faulty chairwoman Dr Bernadka Dubicka warned that the impact of emotional distress of parents on their children cannot be underestimated.

She said: “Not every adult with emotional distress will have a mental health disorder, but many will.

“Professionals working with adults who have mental health problems need to be aware of the impact this might have on their families, who may also require support.”


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