News on the mental health struggles encountered by primary school-aged kids

“Research suggests early intervention is linked with better outcomes for children later in life,” said Kirrilie Smout, clinical child psychologist and founder of Calm Kid Central.

Recent research commissioned by HCF, Australia’s largest not-for-profit health fund, sheds light on the mental health struggles encountered by Australian primary school-aged children and their families, revealing concerning findings.

The survey conducted among parents unveiled that over half (53%) observed mental health challenges in their primary schoolers over the past year. Additionally, approximately one in three parents (37%) reported their child had received a formal diagnosis of a mental health or neurodevelopmental condition, with ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, and anxiety ranking among the most common diagnoses.

The study also exposed gaps in accessing mental health support, with over a third (35%) of parents admitting to not seeking any assistance for their child.

“This data emphasizes the urgent need for proactive measures to support the mental health of children and their families,” stated Kirrilie Smout, clinical child psychologist and founder of Calm Kid Central.

Calm Kid Central offers an online program tailored to assist children facing emotional, social, or life challenges, providing interactive lessons, games, and access to an online forum of child psychologists to aid parents and caregivers.

“Early intervention is crucial for better outcomes later in life,” added Ms. Smout.

A striking 85% of surveyed parents acknowledged that their child’s mental health challenges had a significant impact on their family’s daily life, leading to strain on parent-child relationships, difficulty managing caregiving responsibilities, disruptions in daily routines or activities, and financial implications.

“Comprehensive support systems encompassing mental health services and family support are essential to empower families in effectively navigating these challenges,” emphasized Linda Opie, HCF’s Head of Health & Wellbeing.

Moreover, 61% of parents disclosed personally facing mental health challenges in the past year due to their primary schooler’s mental health issues, with one in eight (12%) not seeking any support for themselves.

In response to growing needs, professionally led and science-backed digital mental health services are becoming more accessible. Calm Kid Central, This Way Up, and PSYCH2U are examples offering evidence-based online programs and resources.

Access to Calm Kid Central is free for HCF members with children aged 4 to 11. Additionally, eligible HCF members can benefit from one free mental health check-in annually with a PSYCH2U psychologist, along with rebates on This Way Up programs using their extras cover.

“Mental wellbeing is just as crucial as physical wellbeing, and seeking help is the first step toward supporting both your child’s and your own mental health,” concluded Linda.

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