Youth mental health charity, stem4 was founded by chartered British Psychological Society (BPS) member, Dr Nihara Krause, to raise awareness around the mental health struggles facing children and young people today.

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic however, they have also turned their sights to how parents and carers have been impacted. Their most recent survey on the matter, involved 1,028 parents and carers from across the UK, all with at least one child up to the age of 18 who lives at home.

The results from the survey show a demographic of people who are struggling with their mental health silently, with many unable to access support

  • 39% of the respondents report experiencing mental health difficulties, this is almost 40% more than at the start of the pandemic.
  • Only 26% of respondents have been able to access the treatment and support they need.
  • 77% of parents and carers with a pre-existing mental health condition indicated that the pandemic has made their condition worse.
  • 36% of those who have experienced their mental health condition worsening attributed this to a lack of access to mental health services.

What has lead to this?

The pressures on parents and carers that have become synonymous with lockdowns: home schooling, juggling work and parenting, financial difficulties have all added to the likelihood of parents experiencing mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD.

It is also important to note that instances of mental-ill health among teens and young people have also increased during the pandemic, with a severe lack of access to services such as CAMHS and self-referral wellbeing support, that would usually provide treatment for young people. This, undoubtedly will also be felt by parents who are concerned and stressed about their child’s mental health.

Dr Krause, on the BPS website, emphasised how concerning it is that only a quarter of parents have been able or willing to access mental health services, and echoed the above sentiments over children and young people’s services, stating that many are at “breaking point”. Dr Krause commented on the impossible balancing act of keeping to their own responsibilities, look after their own mental health as well as support their child’s.

“That can be especially hard if their own mental health is compromised,” Dr Krause said.

She called for “enhanced” family mental health services from birth to adulthood, with a “properly funded range of child, young person and adult mental health services.”