Almost 4,000 children in West Sussex are at risk of developing poor mental health because they live with parents who are hooked on alcohol or drugs.
The figures were shared at a meeting of the Health & Wellbeing Board, which heard that the emotional wellbeing of some of the county’s ten and 11-year-olds was below the national average.
A report to the meeting stated:
“Particular groups of children are more likely to develop mental health problems.
“Adverse childhood experiences such as being the victim of abuse, parental alcohol/substance use, poor parental mental health, and family instability can all impact on a child’s emotional wellbeing.”
The report shared the findings of a happiness survey which was carried out in 2018 among 1,185 Year 6 pupils.
Half of them said they had been bullied in the past year, with verbal bullying being the most common, while one-quarter said they never spoke to parents or teachers if they had problems or worries.
The report also stated that the rate of self-harming among 10-24-year-olds in West Sussex was higher than the national average, with young people aged 15-19 making up one-fifth of the county’s emergency hospital admissions for self-harm in 2017/18.
None of these problems are new and, in 2015, the West Sussex Local Transformation Plan was set up the aim of improving the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people.
Developed by the county council and the three clinical commissioning groups – Coastal West Sussex, Horsham & Mid Sussex, and Crawley – the plan helps to improve access to services and supports children and young people, whatever their needs.