Women at work looking stressed out. Hands on her face.

How Children’s Mental Health Impacts Working Parents – We are Not OK

This article is a call to action for employers. It’s clear the children’s mental health crisis is impacting the bottom line of corporate America. It’s estimated that workplace stress is costing U.S. employers 200 billion every year in healthcare costs alone. It’s time we provide more support to working parents who are terrified and burnt out from worries about their children.

Working parents make up approximately 81% of the U.S. workforce, and according to a 2023 Pew Research report, 75% of them say that their main concern is their children’s mental health. Wow. There is definitely a disconnect between what parents need and what they are receiving through workplace benefits.

When employees have children who experience trauma and/or struggle with mental health problems, it affects their ability to show up and do their job effectively. It can also significantly impact the adult’s mental health, causing an infinite loop of crises within the family and workplace. High levels of stress can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms for working parents, such as substance misuse, that interferes with their ability to perform at work.

As a former trauma therapist for children, I believe businesses benefit from providing their employees with access to guidance and support to cope with children’s mental health problems.

How the Children’s Mental Health Crisis is Impacting Working Parents

An image of statistics on children's mental health and the negative impact it has on employee's work lives. 1 in 6 children have a diagnosable mental health condition. 71% of parents said issues with child's emotional wellbeing made work more difficult, 53% of working parents missed work at least once per month to tend to their children's mental health.
Original image found here: Blue Cross Blue Shield

According to research by Blue Cross Blue Shield, concerns about our children’s mental health are brought to work with us every day, and they impact the success of your organization and the tension within your teams.

In addition, David M. Cordani, chairman and CEO of The Cigna Group, says in a recent article, “To foster a vital, thriving society, we must change the trajectory of the mental health crisis and address the human and economic toll at its very core. In collaboration with employers, we have the unique ability to curb the crisis by more effectively engaging parents and children quickly and seamlessly and fostering workplaces that are supportive of family mental health.” Amen, Mr. Cordani!

A huge part of this problem is that employees don’t feel comfortable speaking to their supervisor or human resources department about children’s mental health due to the stigma and/or fear of being terminated from their role. This is a problem for businesses because it means the workforce doesn’t feel safe enough to be honest with their supervisors. Executive leadership can grow past this problem by asking themselves:

“What it is about me and my company’s culture that makes people want to hide their struggles?”

What are the Pain Points for Working Parents?

 

According to Jeffery Pfeffer, renowned Stanford University Professor and author of the book, Dying for a Paycheck, “The evidence shows that social support—family and friends you can count on, as well as close relationships—can have a direct effect on health and buffers the effects of various psychosocial stresses, including workplace stress, that can compromise health. For instance, one review noted that “people who were less socially integrated” and “people with low levels of social support” had higher mortality rates.”

I see this as an opportunity for action. I see hope in the support we could be providing at work for parents. Imagine the untapped potential to improve well-being if we provide more access to mental health programs and parenting support at work.

How Employers Can Support Children’s Mental Health for Working Parents

 

I recognize that there is not an easy solution to these problems. However, I believe we have unrealized potential waiting for us through providing guidance and trauma-informed caregiving skills to employees via training and development.

If you want to learn more about children’s mental health and how to build emotional resiliency in families, subscribe to my free newsletter at BethTyson.com or join my private Facebook group, Emotiminds.

*If you found this article helpful, please share it with a friend or colleague today.

Author: Beth Tyson, MA

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