Charities publish report on factors affecting children's mental healh

By agency reporter
June 8, 2018

4 Jun 2018

Ten year olds who frequently argue with their mother are significantly more likely to develop mental health problems by the time they are 14, a new report from The Children’s Society and Barnardo’s has found. 

Half of all mental health problems start by age 14 and the charities wanted to find out which of the issues affecting children about to move up to secondary school were most strongly linked to mental ill health later on.

Researchers at the University of Essex analysed data from more than 12,000 children discovered that 10-11 year olds who argued with their mother ‘most days’ or said they didn’t feel supported by their family were four times more likely to have mental health problems, such as depression or anxiety, by the time they were 14-15 years old. Around one in 10 (11 per cent) UK children aged 10-11 habitually argue with their mother and one in 6 (17 per cent) don’t feel supported by their family in most aspects of their life.

Although fewer than one in 20 (four per cent) of 10-11 year old children are bullied a few times each week, the impact is stark: they are 19 times more likely to have mental health problems by the time they are 14, than those who are not bullied.

Children’s worries about their appearances too should not be readily dismissed, the research revealed: children unhappy with their appearance as 10 year olds are three times more likely to exhibit mental ill health at 14 compared with those who are happy with their appearance. Around one in 10 (eight per cent) of 10-11 year olds are unhappy with their appearance.

The Children’s Society Chief Executive, Matthew Reed, said: “The relationships that children have with their family, their peers at school and how they view themselves are cornerstones of their future mental health.

“These findings reveal just how important it is to spot children’s problems at home, at school, and with self-esteem early on and make sure that children and their families get the right support as they make the move up to secondary school.”

Barnardo’s Chief Executive, Javed Khan, said: “Teenagers often can’t access the right support when they’re struggling to cope at home or at school. It’s vital that problems are identified early so they don’t get worse later on.

“Schools, parents, carers and professionals should be given the tools to recognise and respond to issues troubling children while they are still at primary school, and make sure they are supported in the transition to secondary school.

“Barnardo’s works with schools through programmes like Paths Plus, to develop children’s emotional literacy and resilience, which are the building blocks for wellbeing.

“We believe all primary schools should have the skills and resource they need to boost social and emotional learning.”

The charities are calling for the Government to train new school mental health leads to spot and act on problems that can harm children’s mental health early on and to invest in more advice and services for parents worried about their teenagers’ mental health.

* Read the report Factors affecting children's mental health over time here

* The Children's Society

* Barnado's


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