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Parents fear that mental illness in childhood is a 'life sentence'

Many parents fear a diagnosis of mental illness will amount to a 'life sentence' for their child according to a new study we have released today. 

More than two thirds (67%) of parents who took part in our survey said they would worry that their son or daughter might never recover from a mental illness. 74% were concerned that mental health issues might get worse over time.

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Call on the government to prioritise young people's mental health

The survey also highlighted the depth of parents’ concerns surrounding mental health, with many worried about the impact on education, employment and personal relationships. Around half of parents (49%) said they would be worried their child might never meet a partner or have a family of their own if they were to be diagnosed with a mental illness, while 48% feared they might never get a job and 44% admitted to fearing that their child might be taken away from home to live elsewhere.

The figures reflect a growing crisis in young people’s mental health. Three children in every class are affected by mental illness. But many are waiting an average of a decade between experiencing their first symptoms and actually getting help. And only a quarter of young people referred to services are receiving appropriate mental health care. 

Research can give parents and children much-needed hope for a brighter future.

We are calling on the Government to address parent’s concerns by prioritising research into young people’s mental health. With 75% of mental illness beginnining before the age of 18, it is vital that we build the evidence base to intervene earlier and make sure young people get the vital help that works for them. However, despite affecting one in four people each year, only 5.8% of UK research spend goes towards mental health.

Our Chief Executive, Cynthia Joyce said today:  

 “Living with a mental illness can be a tough burden for anyone. But when it affects a child it can be terrifying. Our research sheds more light on the concerns of parents - heartbreaking and all too often unspoken. And it reveals just how far we still have to go when it comes to tackling mental health.

Only through research can we get to grips with this growing crisis in young people's mental health - and give parents and children much-needed hope for a brighter future.”

The survey of more than 2,000 adults, carried out by YouGov indicates there is strong public backing for greater investment in research. More than four in five adults agree that “more should be done to tackle mental illness for the future”, rising to 97% among those with lived experience of mental illness. 68% of adults surveyed believe that the current proportion of funding for mental health research is too low and, on average, respondents think 20% of the total UK medical research budget should be spent on mental illness.

Over 17,000 people have already signed our petition calling for action to tackle this crisis. If you too would like to show your support for young people’s mental health, sign up here.

Last updated: 28 June 2016

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© MQ: Transforming mental health 2016 | Registered charity in England / Wales: 1139916 & Scotland: SC046075 | Company number: 7406055