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30/07/2021

Survey finds that 20% of parents have sought support for their children’s mental health during the pandemic

Mental Health public meeting in Ballingarry

Mental health webinar

A recent survey has shown that almost 20% of parents of mostly primary school age have sought some form of mental health support for their child during the Covid-19 pandemic. It also showed that 55% of parents have concerns about the long-term impact of the pandemic on their child’s mental health.

The survey, which was carried out by Walk in My Shoes, the awareness-raising and education campaign of St Patrick’s Mental Health Services, in conjunction with the National Parents Council Primary, saw nearly 2,000 parents respond to the questionnaire that explored parents’ concerns for their children’s mental health as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Some 85% of parents who responded to the survey had children aged between five and 12 years.

The survey was issued to over 9,000 parents on the National Parents Council Primary network and was completed between 8 June and 30 June. This is the second consecutive year that Walk in My Shoes and the National Parents Council have conducted a survey to specifically gain insights into how Covid-19 is impacting young people’s mental health, particularly younger children between the ages of five to 12.

Findings revealed that:

·        Approximately 55% of parents are concerned about the long-term impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on their children’s mental health

·        Almost 20% of children received some form of mental health support over the course of the pandemic; (private counselling (6%), HSE community supports (3.5%), school counsellor (2.7%), local clubs (2%), other supports (6%)

·        30% of parents sought support or information about their children’s mental health during this period, mostly from online sources (61%), their GP (57%), or teachers (50%)

·        25% of parents are concerned about their child’s readjustment as society opens-up over the next few months

·        Anxiety (60%), coping strategies (44%) and isolation and loneliness (41%) were identified as the top three areas where parents felt they need assistance to support their child’s mental health (similar to 2020 results). Social media overuse during the pandemic and stress were also identified as areas of concern for parents, with 26% and 27% of parents citing these concerns respectively.

The survey findings also highlighted parents’ worries about their children developing trust issues as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions; both due to changing plans and last-minute cancellations, and lack of trust in themselves and others in adhering to public health guidelines. Lack of physical connection, aggression, lashing out and establishing and maintaining good relationships with friends and peers were among other worries parents held for their children.

In light of this year’s survey results, Walk in My Shoes will host a free webinar for parents on 27 July, exploring how parents can support their children’s mental health, with a specific focus on the top three concerns identified by parents in the survey findings.  These include coping strategies, managing children’s anxiety and supporting children through loneliness and isolation.

Speakers include Clinical Psychologist and CEO of St Patrick’s Mental Health Services, Paul Gilligan; Áine Lynch, CEO, National Parents Council; and Cliodhna McDonnell, Founder of Doing the Best We Can. To register for Parents’ Webinar: Supporting Your Child’s Mental Health’ please visit www.walkinmyshoes.ie.  

Speaking on the survey results, Paul Gilligan, CEO, St Patrick’s Mental Health Services said: “Children’s mental health has been a serious concern for everyone throughout this pandemic, so it is understandable that up to 55% of parents worry about the long-term impact of restrictions on their children. It is important, therefore, that parents feel reassured that support is available and that overall young people have shown incredible strength and resilience during this time. 

“The next step is to use these findings to inform how we support parents and children going forward. Walk in My Shoes will be holding a free webinar for parents and guardians that will address some of the main concerns highlighted including anxiety, coping strategies and loneliness and isolation.”

Visit www.walkinmyshoes.ie for downloadable resources, articles and tips for supporting children’s mental health in the ongoing pandemic. For more information on the upcoming webinar for parents, visit www.walkinmyshoes.ie. 

For more information about the National Parents Council, visit www.npc.ie

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