Facts and figures

  • An estimated 2.9 million young people in the UK[10] live with parents who have symptoms of anxiety and depression. This figure doesn’t account for parents who have other mental illnesses – such as schizophrenia, personality disorders and post-traumatic stress disorders – so we anticipate the number of young people affected to be much greater.
  • In an average class — six children have a parent with mental health problems[9].
  • Without intervention, 70% of children affected by parental mental illness are predicted to suffer from mental illness themselves.
  • Adults who experienced a mentally ill parent in childhood report higher levels of abuse, neglect and isolation.
  • Some 68% of women and 57% of men with mental illness are parents. [1]
  • Up to 20% of women develop a mental illness during pregnancy or within a year of giving birth. [2]
  • Over one-third of first-time fathers are concerned about their mental health. [3]
  • One in four adults will experience a mental illness at some point each year. [4]
  • 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. [5]
  • Parental mental illness is one of the 10 most powerful sources of toxic stress.
  • There is no statutory provision for children whose parents have ill mental health.
  • Some four in five young carers go unidentified. [6]
  • In the UK there is no recognised term for young people affected by parental mental illness and the government keeps no statistics about their numbers.
  • Early intervention can mitigate the negative impact of parental mental illness.
  • Between 2010-2017 there was a 40% real-term cut in early intervention spending. [7]
  • The total cost of late intervention is estimated at £17 billion per year. [8]


  1. Parental mental illness: The impact on children and adolescents, Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2016
  2. The costs of perinatal mental health problems, Centre for Mental Health and London School of Economics, 2014
  3. National Childbirth Trust, Dads in distress, 2015.
  4. Adult psychiatric morbidity in England, 2007: results of a household survey. The NHS Information Centre for health and social care.
  5. The costs of perinatal mental health problems, Centre for Mental Health and London School of Economics, 2014
  6. The support provided to Young Carers in England, Children’s Commissioner’s survey, December 2016
  7. Turning the Tide, Children’s Society, 2017
  8. The Cost of Late Intervention: Early Intervention Foundation analysis, 2016
  9. Children’s Commissioner’s report 2018, ‘Are the shouting because of me?’
  10. Children’s Commissioner’s Vulnerability Report 2019