According to research carried out by YouGov for The Huffington Post UK, almost a third (32%) of British mums and dads feel that having a child with a mental health issue might reflect badly on them as parents.
The poll, which surveyed more than 1,000 parents with children under 18, was published as part of the Young Minds Matter series, guest edited by The Duchess of Cambridge.
It's an arresting headline and while it's easy to be judgemental of parents who see mental health issues in such a negative light, I think many of us might identify with those very honest mums and dads - perhaps more than we'd care to admit.
It's not that I'd care about what anyone thought of me if one of my children had mental health issues - I know how prevalent mental ill-health issues are among children, and that there's nothing shameful in suffering from a mental health problem nor in seeking help to deal with it.
But there's no denying that we live in a society which still stigmatises mental health problems and when you pair that with the pressure that many parents feel to do everything perfectly, it's little wonder that a third of British parents admit to feeling that it would reflect badly on them if their child had a mental health problem.
The Duchess of Cambridge wrote this in her piece for the Huffington Post today:
"Like most parents today, William and I would not hesitate to seek help for our children if they needed it. We hope to encourage George and Charlotte to speak about their feelings, and to give them the tools and sensitivity to be supportive peers to their friends as they get older. We know there is no shame in a young child struggling with their emotions or suffering from a mental illness."
According to Young Minds, a charity which works to improve the mental health and emotional wellbeing of children and young people, more than 85,000 children and young people in the UK have been diagnosed with a mental health condition.
Which got me wondering - would we all know where to go for help and support if our child faced a battle with their mental health? And for those who admit to worrying that it might reflect badly on us, might it hold us back from asking for help?
What's worrying about this little nugget of data isn't that parents feel this way, but that parents of children with mental health conditions might be slow to seek help because of such concerns.
Young Minds offer some brilliant resources for parents, including a helpline which offers confidential phone and email support for any adult worried about the wellbeing of a young person. You can check it out here.
Young Minds also offer these words of wisdom to any parent worried about a child's mental health:
"If your child is having problems, don't be too hard on yourself or blame yourself. Although it can be upsetting and worrying if your child is having a bad time, and it makes your relationship with them feel more stressful, you are not a bad parent. Children often take it out on those closest to them, so you might be feeling the effect of their very powerful emotions."
I love that reminder that being the parent of a child with a metal illness isn't a sign of bad parenting. It's normal to feel guilt as a parent and ok to worry about your parenting skills, especially if your child faces difficulties. But it's vital to recognise that taking steps to address your concerns and seeking help for your child is in fact a hallmark of great parenting.
TOPICS: Parenting Tips