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Mental health support for parents and children in the UK: Parental judgement is harming mental health

Mental health support in the UK
A large scale research project by the Royal Foundation exploring the early years (0-5) has found that parental judgements are harming mental health.

70% of parents said that they were judged as parents, this is most likely to be because of how their child behaves or how they manage that behaviour.

Parents say that being judged has an emotional toll and it often lowers their self-esteem. Social judgements exist beyond parental groups with 64% of none-parents say that they judge parents. Taken together, this can make it harder for parents to seek support.

Mental health support should be offered to parents proactively and be available to those who accept it. Parental support networks, which allow for non-judgemental discussions, should be fostered. Environments which support parents should be encouraged with harmful social expectations on the ‘perfect parent’ being eradicated.  
 
There is a scientific consensus that the 0-5 years are crucial to support life-long good physical and mental health. The brain develops more during this period and this is most accelerated in the first 18 months of life. Yet, most parents are unaware of this. This is likely to be because this development is difficult to see by parents as well as a misguided belief that they cannot influence it. 
 
To assist with this, it might be better to describe the changes taking place in relation to social relationships and everyday experiences. 
'Supporting the child starts with supporting the adult'

Parents know that they need to be emotionally healthy in order to care for their young children, yet 73% report being stressed or very stressed. 

58% of parents also feel that it is purely their responsibility to ensure the health and happiness of their child, rather than it being something shared with others in society, such as schools, nurseries, wider family, neighbours, friends etc.

 The majority of parents think that they are mainly responsible for their child’s emotional development. 

This is different for other aspects of development, with parents more likely to think that primary schools are equally responsible for reading, writing, creativity, speaking, listening, physical skills, social skills and behaviours.  
 
To assist with this, a greater focus on the learning and growth that takes place in the pre-school, and a recognition of the role that parents and the wider community have done to support this, would help to change perceptions.