Parental Mental Health and the Impact on Children

Barnardos. (2024). Parental Mental Health and the Impact on Children.
Over recent years there has been considerable attention on child and adolescent mental health and the lack of support available to them. However, there has been a lot less focus on parental mental health. This is despite the fact, we know from research, and from first-hand experience within our services, that children living in households with parental mental health issues can face significant disadvantage in terms of their mental wellbeing and overall development. This briefing explores the need for greater attention on this issue. If children are to thrive, it is vital they grow up in a positive and loving environment with parents responsive to their needs. When this is impaired due to parental mental health issues, support must be available to mitigate and reduce the potential harm and negative impacts on children. The briefing will set out levels of prevalence of parental mental health and wellbeing issues within Ireland, before outlining the impact it has on parents and their parenting, taken from the direct views and experiences of families who have been through the issue and the staff supporting them. It will then focus on the impact this has on children. The report outlines that many families are not in a position to deal with parental mental health issues on their own. In particular, those facing additional adversities and disadvantages, which may have been the cause of or compound mental health issues. These issues include substance misuse, domestic violence, poverty and deprivation and unsuitable and insecure accommodation. Finally, we highlight the support and recommendations parents told us they would like to see put in place in the future. The quicker families can access the support they need, the less likely parental mental health issues will negatively affect children, ultimately improving their opportunities to positively develop and grow and generally experience better quality childhoods.