Parents identify the depressed and anxious generation

Article date: 6 October 2004

More than a million children are suffering from anxiety ordepression according to parents, new research reveals today.

Three-quarters (75%) of the nation’s parents say peerpressure and school stresses such as bullying and exams have thegreatest impact on their child’s emotional health andwellbeing.

And combined with societal pressure about body image, kidsacross the country are prone to stress, panic attacks anddepression according to nearly a fifth (17%) of mums and dadsquestioned in Norwich Union Healthcare’s "Growing Pains"study.

Commenting on the findings, Dinah Morley, director ofchildren’s mental health charity YoungMinds, said: "Theresults of the ‘Growing Pains’ study clearly show thatmental health problems are rising amongst adolescents in the UK -many young people feel desperately anxious about how they are goingto take their place in the adult world. As for why this isoccurring, we can only point to a number of contemporary factorswhich impact on adolescents, undermining their plans for the futureand setting goals which are virtually unattainable."

The study of more than 400 parents of children aged five to 15was commissioned by Norwich Union Healthcare as it launches anational initiative to help parents get the best support for theirchild’s emotional and physical wellbeing.

Working with Dr Foster, the health insurer has developed anonline information guide to children’s health services aspart of its It’s designed to help the increasing numbers ofworried parents who feel unsupported.

More than half (58%) admit they wouldn’t know where to gofor help because of a lack of information and over a fifth (21%)think that seeing their GP about their child’s mental healthwould be a waste of time.

Again, more than half (55%) of parents questioned don’tthink there’s enough health services specifically forchildren in their area and seven in 10 (69%) believe the Governmentshould be investing more in the provision of mental health servicesfor children and young people.

Dr Doug Wright, clinical development manager at Norwich UnionHealthcare, said: "It’s often the case that whilechildren’s services are available locally, parentsdon’t know where to look for information and advice on whatthey can access in their area.

"By developing this online information facility we’reaiming to provide parents with the tools they need to support theirchildren through times of anxiety."

The Norwich Union Healthcare "Growing Pains" study alsofound:

  • More than three quarters (78%) of parents say their childrenare under far greater pressure than they were when they weregrowing up
  • One in 20 (5%) parents worry their child is at risk ofdeveloping an eating disorder as a result of today’spressures. Other worries also include not wanting to go to school(33%), nervous habits such as nail biting (16%) and unexplainedstomach problems (11%)
  • 70% of mums are more likely to talk directly to their childthan dads (61%) if they think there’s a problem - four percent say they’d do nothing unless their child asked themdirectly for help
  • A quarter (24%) of parents say they feel out of touch ordistant from their child and three quarters (74%) worry that lackof communication in families could be contributing toproblems
  • More than half (52%) of parents say that knowing what healthservices are available for their children in an area would play apart in their decision on where to move
  • Regionally, bullying is the biggest issue for kids in London(19%)
  • While parents in Scotland fear that the pressure of exams andschool work is the biggest issue for Scots children (25%).

Personal Health Manager includes information on the emergencydepartment, inpatient and surgical services available at NHShospitals across the country, as well as details of paediatricconsultants. Parents can also search for child and adolescentmental health services across the UK.*


Media contacts:
Jo Misson, Charlotte Ruddlesdin orMatt Buchanan at QBO Bell Pottinger on 020 7861 2424.

Norwich Union press office contacts:
James Evans 01904 452791 Out of hours 07800 699 525
Louise Soulsby 01904 452617 Out of hours 07800 699 526
David Gwyer 01904 452828 Out of hours 07800 699508

Notes to editors:
*Non customers are eligible for one month’s free trial of thePersonal Health Manager but the 24 hour GP helpline and stresshelpline is not part of this trial.

Norwich Union Healthcare commissioned TNS Global to question arepresentative sample of parents across Great Britain. The surveyamong 415 parents of 5 to 15-year-olds took place between August2004.

About Norwich Union Healthcare

  • Norwich Union Healthcare was founded in 1990 as the healthcarearm of Norwich Union and now provides a range of income protectionand private medical insurance products that cover over 750,000lives. It is one of the largest providers of income protection andprivate medical insurance in the UK
  • Norwich Union Healthcare is a member of the General InsuranceStandards Council, the Association of British Insurers and theFinancial Ombudsman Service
  • Norwich Union’s news releases and a selection of imagesare available from Aviva’s internet press centre at

About Dr Foster

  • Dr Foster is the leading independent authority on healthcarequality in the UK. It publishes information which is accessible tothe general public and provides information analysis to theprofessional healthcare community
  • An independent Ethics Committee with substantial powers toenforce editorial and research integrity oversees theorganisation
  • Further information is available at

About YoungMinds
YoungMinds is the nationalchildren’s mental health charity, based in London and workingacross the four countries of the UK. It works to improve therecognition and understanding of children’s mental health, aswell as advocating for good child and adolescent mental healthservices. It provides information, training and consultancy to allprofessionals working with children, information material forparents and young people as well as a parents telephone helpline.Further information about children’s mental health andYoungMinds can be found on

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