Children and families facing a ‘heavy mental toll’ with Christmas anxieties

New research reveals the stress and misery of millions of families in the run up to Christmas, with parents wishing the day away and children worried.

Survey results released this week by children’s charity Action for Children sheds light on the ‘heavy mental health toll’ faced by children and their parents over the Christmas period – especially those struggling with money.

As the country faces Covid-hit celebrations, over half UK children (57%) think their parents will be worried about making it a happy time for their family, according to the polling.

The survey also found that the pandemic is also leaving children anxious, scared of illness and death, lonely, angry and suffering nightmares.

The poll, conducted by YouGov, surveying more than 1,000 UK parents and 1,000 children lays bare the financial toll felt by a new wave of parents who have never needed help but are now struggling.

Nearly half (46%) of parents on Universal Credit surveyed are facing their first ever Christmas on the benefit. Of these, 41% said they wished they could cancel Christmas, while more than half reported plans to delay paying household bills, borrow money or sell belongings to pay for Christmas celebrations.

The polling also shines a light on the mental health toll the crisis has taken on children, showing:
- Half of children (49%) reporting anxiety
- More than a third (38%) feared getting ill or dying
- A third (33%) were feeling lonely
- A quarter of children felt (26%) angry
- One in five (22%) parents reported them having mood swings or panic attacks
- And more than one in eight (13%) children were suffering nightmares

Deputy chief executive of Action for Children, Carol Iddon, said: “Christmas should be the most exciting time of the year but instead children and young people are desperately struggling to get through this crisis, with parents wishing away the pressure of the festive season.

“Every day our frontline workers are helping parents keep their heads above water as some face the prospect of eviction or selling belongings to cover the cost of Christmas. While vulnerable children who should be enjoying a safe and happy childhood are suffering nightmares, panic attacks, or being scared of issues like death and illness.”

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