Children’s mental health: an “urgent” issue | UCL Institute of Education


I’m the director of the Millennium
Cohort study. In recent research I’ve
looked at the factors affecting children’s mental
health up to age 14. There’s an absolutely urgent need
for more attention to this issue. We took into account a whole
range of factors about the families. So their poverty levels, maternal
education, family structure, family dynamics and so on. And what we found that
the most important influence was really the mother’s
mental health. We also looked at
father’s mental health but we found that it was maternal mental
health that was far more important than any of the other factors
we were considering. [Larissa Pople] The studies that
they do in relation to the Millennium Cohort Study, was
one of the data sources that we draw on the most in order to
understand children’s lives. These are the kinds of studies
that are really relevant for us. We help children that are in need,
particularly those who may have run away from home, for example. We also do policy and research on related issues,
particularly on children’s well-being and poverty. We’re trying to identify those aspects
of children’s lives, which are the biggest worry. So things like explanations
for why we’re seeing gender differences at mid-teen years and why
things like bullying and family factors are so important. We’re trying to identify those
issues in order to sort of generate the will and the interest
in changing them and obviously to bring about sort of policy change
and attitude change and to improve things for children. [Emla] It’ll be really
important to understand the longer-term effects of childhood mental
health and in particular we know that many aspects of people’s lives tend to
be affected and my ambition is really to understand all of those as this
cohort of children move through life.

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