Working parents concerned over children’s mental health

There was an 80% increase in young people with a probable mental health condition from 2017 to 2023 (NHS England)

Nearly half (46%) of working parents reported that they were concerned about their children’s mental health while 29% named it a top concern, a report by Deloitte has found.

More than half (56%) of working parents said these concerns impacted their performance at work. 21% reported lower productivity.

The report showed that working parents’ concerns for their children’s mental health cost employers £8 billion annually, an additional 16% on top of the £51 billion employers spent on employee mental health-related costs in 2023.

Ana Aznar, CEO of parent support platform REC Parenting, told HR magazine that employers could not afford to ignore working parents’ concerns about their children’s mental health.

She said: “The days when employees’ personal lives were ignored are long gone. These days, employees want to work for employers that care about them and their families.

“When employees worry about their children’s mental health, their productivity and absenteeism are negatively affected, negatively impacting the organisation. Therefore, supporting them is a wise business decision. 

Read more: Quarter of mothers do extra work to cover childcare cost

“Doing so will help employers save money, retain and attract talent, create a happier work environment, and improve the life of their working parents and their families.”

Staff turnover was the biggest contributor (at £3.2 billion) to the £8 billion cost to employers; absence was second (at £2.2 billion) and presenteeism was third (at £2.9 billion).

One in 100 of working parents who had left their job said it was due entirely to the mental health and wellbeing of their child. 

Of the working parents who expressed concerns for their children’s mental health, 20% took days off to care for them, with most taking one to five days of leave per year, and 15% sought to change jobs for better hours or to be closer to home.

Over a third (35%) of working parents expected employers to support them and their children and 20% felt their employer had not provided adequate support in this area.

Mandy Garner, editor of, told HR magazine that employers could support working parents with their concerns by offering flexible working or access to professional help.

Read more: Employee benefits lack adequate support for working parents

She said: “That means redoubling engagement efforts and offering flexibility where possible so parents can, for instance, flex hours or work from home if they are finding it difficult to get children into school. 

“Having parent forums where parents can discuss and share experiences and get access to expert help is also helpful. Often simple things and asking parents what would help are the most useful.”

Jane van Zyl, CEO at Working Families, added that lack of communication can prevent working parents accessing support their employer offers them.

She told HR magazine: “We have found through our research and our free legal advice line, that many parents face obstacles in accessing policies, support, and benefits. This is due to various factors, most of which centre around lack of information, fear of stigma or concerns about career advancement.

“One common reason is a lack of communication or promotion of these resources within the workplace.”

Aznar noted HR should regularly communicate the support they have available with working parents.

She commented: “The most supportive measures don’t mean much if working parents don’t know about them or don’t feel they can use them for fear of damaging their progression or being stigmatised.

“It is also important that HR shout about these measures in their recruitment, interview, and onboarding processes, and reminding employees on a regular basis.”

YouGov surveyed 3,156 working adults (including 1,834 working parents) across the UK in October 2023 on behalf of Deloitte for the UK Mental Health Report 2024.