More than a quarter of children living at home grow up with one or two parents with a mental illness or an alcohol or drug addiction. They are therefore 2 to 4 times more likely to develop psychological problems themselves later, says the Trimbos Institute.
About ten years ago, approximately 577,000 children under the age of 18 had a parent or two parents with mental illness or alcohol or drug addiction. In the new calculation based on new figures, the Trimbos Institute arrives at 900,000 children.
In reality, that number is even higher. As far as mental disorders are concerned, this study only looked at mood disorders (such as depression), anxiety disorders, ADHD and alcohol or drug addiction.
Researcher Anouk de Gee attributes the growth in the number of children with these parents to the increase in the number of residents with mental disorders.
Lower school performance
Children who grow up under these circumstances may be hampered in their development by the things they experience at home or the reduced emotional availability of their parents.
“As a result, these children are at increased risk of developing psychological problems themselves later in life,” says De Gee. “It can also lead to reduced school performance, as they may be less able to concentrate in class or be absent more often. We also know that they have an increased risk of divorce and difficulties in forming relationships and setting boundaries.”
Support figure can make a difference
The research on which the Trimbos Institute is based looked at the problems among adults in the twelve months preceding the study. So it was a snapshot. It is not necessary that their children have lived their entire childhood with a parent with psychological problems or an alcohol or drug addiction.
Another nuance is that the severity of problems can vary greatly: from families that go from crisis to crisis to families in which both parents work and are able to keep family life going.
What can also make a difference is whether these children have another strong “support figure” in their environment in addition to the parent with a mental illness. That could also be the other parent.
Professional help for children
More than half of the parents from these families had contact with a care provider in the past year about their addiction or psychological complaints. “That strengthens our belief that we can reach these children for help and support through adult care,” says De Gee.
“At the same time, we know that this is not yet successful in practice and there is a group of children, almost as large, to whom this does not apply. For these children, we need to find other ways to reach them with prevention. .”
- Parents who are in danger of losing custody of their child receive a lawyer free of charge
- Children and parents will receive legal support for all out-of-home placements