Facts and figures

  • 1 in 3 young people in the UK have a parent reporting symptoms of anxiety or depression.[1]
  • More than 1 in 10 children in England live with an adult who has severe mental health difficulties.[2]
  • Having a parent with mental health difficulties makes it three times more likely a child will go on to develop mental health problems themselves.[3]
  • Poor parental mental health is one of the nine indicators used by the government to track the disadvantages that affect families and children’s outcomes.[4]
  • Having a close family member with a mental illness is one of the ten Adverse Childhood Experiences –  trauma or toxic stress that increase the risk of adult mental health problems and physical illness.[5]
  • Some 68% of women and 57% of men with mental illness are parents.[6]
  • Perinatal mental health problems cost the UK £8.1 billion each year. Nearly three quarters of this cost relates to the impact on the child rather than the mother.[7]
  • Between 2010 – 2020, local government spending on early intervention projects (such as children’s centres, family support services and youth services) was cut by 48% to £1.8 billion. Spending on costlier late interventions (such as youth justice services, looked-after children’s services and safeguarding) increased by 34% to £7.6 billion.[8]
  • The economic cost of failing to invest in the early years in 2018/19 was estimated at £16.13 billion, covering child injuries and mental health problems; children’s social care; crime and antisocial behaviour; school absence and exclusions; and youth economic inactivity. It included the long-term costs of later mental and physical health problems, and social consequences such as homelessness.[9]


  1. Understanding Society Survey 2018-19, UK Household Longitudinal Study 
  2. Estimating the prevalence of the ‘toxic trio’ 2018 , Office of the Children’s Commissioner – evidence from the adult psychiatric morbidity survey
  3. Mental Health of Children and Young People in England, 2017, NHS
  4. Improving lives: helping workless families indicators 2020, Department for Work and Pensions
  5. Adverse childhood experiences: What we know, what we don’t know, and what should happen next, Early Intervention Foundation 2020
  6. The Perinatal Mental Health Toolkit, Royal College of General Practitioners
  7. Costs of perinatal mental health problems, Centre for Mental Health and London School of Economics, 2014
  8. Children and young people’s services: Spending 2010-11 to 2019-20, Pro Bono Economics and The Children’s Services Funding Alliance – compromising of Action for Children, Barnardo’s, National Children’s Bureau, NSPCC and The Children’s Society Alliance
  9. Big Change Starts Small, The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood Report and the London School of Economics, June 2021