Brief • 3 min Read
Over the past few years, there has been growing public concern about the health and safety of American children. Social media’s relationship with young peoples’ mental health, threats of gun violence, and the lingering social effects of COVID-19 have all been raised as points of concern for parents across America.
Parents feel optimistic about their children’s mental health.
That said, a recent Harris Poll finds that a notable sum of American parents of school-aged children feel positively about their children’s mental and social health. Four in five (88%) parents consider their child’s emotional health to be good, very good, or excellent, and 47% of parents feel their child’s emotional health is better now than it was a year ago. Also, four in five (87%) parents consider their child’s social health to be good, very good, or excellent.
Parents also feel prepared to help their children with struggles related to mental health. Eight in 10 parents of a school-aged child (79%) at least somewhat agree that their child is forthcoming in conversations about mental health, and only a third (33%) of parents at least somewhat agree that they don’t know what steps to take if their child struggles with mental health issues.
The COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on children is becoming apparent to caretakers.
However, a noteworthy number of parents recognize that the years since the pandemic have been hard for their children, and that the pandemic has negatively affected their children even after the pandemic has ceased to be at the forefront of public consciousness. A third (35%) of parents note that the COVID-19 pandemic had a negative impact on their child’s emotional health. A similar number (34%) agree that the COVID-19 pandemic had a negative impact on their child’s behavioral health, and two in five (43%) think that the COVID-19 pandemic had a negative impact on their child’s social health.
Schools are viewed as essential tools to support children
With these concerns in mind, most parents (86%) agree that schools should be a resource for both students and parents that need support. More than half of parents are at least somewhat satisfied with the level of support related to emotional or behavioral health (58% and 57%, respectively) that their child receives at school, and three quarters (77%) at least somewhat agree that they trust their child’s school to share information about concerning behaviors displayed by their child.
Parents think there is more that schools can do to support their children. Only half (49%) of parents report that their child’s school offers mental health services (e.g., psychologist, behavioral coach). Over half (54%) of parents think these types of services should be available at their child’s school. Less than a third (32%) of parents say that their child has utilized mental health resources of any type at or outside of school.
While a noteworthy sum of parents feel optimistic about their children’s health, they recognize the uphill battle parents and caretakers face in providing support to young people. Many view easy access to support at school as a viable path to making sure young people have all the tools they need to live a healthy life.
This survey was conducted online in the United States by The Harris Poll from July 28, 2023 to July 31, 2023 among 1,787 US adults, ages 18+, including 440 parents/legal guardians of a child between the ages of 5 and 17. Figures were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions within the US population. Respondents for this survey were selected from a pool of potential respondents who have agreed to participate in The Harris Poll’s online research.
Note: For the purposes of this research, parents/legal guardians were asked to respond based on their experiences with their school-aged child (ages 5-17). Parents/legal guardians of more than one school-aged child were asked to respond based on their experiences with their oldest child between the ages of 5 and 17.
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