Children’s mental health is the number one concern among parents
The No. 1 concern among parents? the mental health of their children New ballot From the Pew Research Center survey of 3,757 US parents with children under the age of 18.
Forty percent of parents with minor children said they were “very” or “extremely” worried about their children suffering from anxiety or depression, and 36 percent reported worrying “somewhat.”
Bullying was the second biggest concern, with 35 percent of parents reporting that they were “very” or “extremely” concerned and 39 percent reporting that they were somewhat concerned.
Mothers were more likely than fathers to express concern about most issues surveyed, including their children’s mental health. There were also differences along lines of socioeconomic status. While bullying was the number one concern for black parents and soon the second for Asian parents, black and Asian parents expressed lower levels of anxiety overall versus white and Hispanic parents.
Children’s mental health was the No. 1 concern across income levels, although parents with higher income levels expressed less concern overall, across all groups. 32 percent of high-income parents reported feeling concerned about their children’s mental health, compared to 48 percent of low-income parents.
“Surprisingly, mental health is on parents’ list of greatest concerns above children’s physical safety,” said Rachel Minkin, a Pew research associate and lead author of the report.
It is difficult to compare these survey results with previous years, because these exact questions, with the same formulations, have not been asked before.
in Survey from 2015At least half of parents are worried that children may suffer from anxiety and depression at some point. in Teen survey from 2019and 70% identified anxiety and depression as a “major problem” — the highest number for any other issue in this particular survey.
“What we can say is that this is a pre-pandemic concern,” Minkin said.
The results didn’t surprise the pediatricians who spoke with The 19th.
during the [COVID-19] “We’ve seen rates of depression and anxiety go up,” said Chase Anderson, MD, a child psychiatrist and assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco.
In particular, Anderson highlighted the increased isolation due to school closures in 2020 and 2021. However, for some students, reopening schools may not improve mental health.
“Going back to school doesn’t mean kids are still dealing with the trauma of social isolation they felt before,” Anderson said.
Anderson also highlighted the particular struggles that LGBTQ+ and students of color may face in returning to school. There was no specific data in the Pew survey about LGBTQ+ Americans, but evidence shows that LGBTQ+ youth are at greater risk for depression and anxiety than their peers, according to National Alliance on Mental Illness.
“For many children, schools have not always been safe places. We want to have a more accurate and diverse view of each child,” he said.
Anderson also drew attention to the impact of anti-LGBTQ legislation in particular. The last ballot From the Trevor Project points out that the national conversation is about LGBTQ+ issues, incl Regulatory laws Bathroom use, athletics, and what can and cannot be discussed in schools may negatively affect the mental health of LGBTQ youth.
“Children see things on the news that cause them stress,” he said.
Hina Taleb, a pediatrician specializing in adolescent medicine, pointed out that the increased interest in mental health may not be completely negative because it also leads to an increase in awareness.
“It’s so refreshing to see more parents come up and ask us if we can be sure to check for anxiety and depression at their next visit. This didn’t happen very often in the pediatrician’s office until five or six years ago.
According to both Anderson and Taleb, parents may be the first to notice changes in their children’s behavior.
“Are they behaving in unusual or unexplained ways? Sometimes children become more withdrawn. Another thing is that before puberty, depression actually manifests more in the form of irritability or anger,” Anderson said.
So what can parents who are concerned about their children’s mental health do?
Taleb stressed the importance of talking to teens about mental health early and often, keeping in mind the feelings of young people.
“Try not to be invalidated. Try to lead with empathy. You really want to be able to listen more than you speak. Ask them if they want to vent or if they would like some advice. “You’re asking for some kind of permission to help out or come up with a plan,” said Taleb.
Anderson recommended making discussions about mental health a normal part of family conversations. He noted that there is still a great deal of stigma around discussions about mental health in American society.
“In your own home, how do you talk about mental health? Is it a stigma? Are you saying, ‘Just get rid of it and get it done?’ Or are you saying, ‘I know this is hard for you.’ I’m here with you as you go through this difficult situation. I’m here to talk about it .
Both recommended that parents concerned about their children’s mental health contact their pediatrician. Schools may also have resources to support children with mental health difficulties if a therapist or doctor is not easily accessible.
“Approach a school counselor or some other type of community member who gives counseling such as through a religious group or a church — anywhere you can find someone to talk to and communicate about feelings,” said Talib.
This story was originally published on January 24, 2023 by the 19th.