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In brief: The effects of child discipline, insurance protection, and suicide prevention

Image of child sat on bench
Michał Parzuchowski | Unsplash

Top story Harsh discipline of children can increase risk of developing mental health problems

Research from the University of Cambridge and University College Dublin has found that children of ‘hostile’ parents are 1.5-times more likely to be at high risk of having mental health symptoms by the age of 9.

The study examined data from 7,507 participants who took part in the ‘Growing up in Ireland’ longitudinal study of young people and children.

Hostile parenting was defined as involving harsh discipline and treatment in both psychological and physiological forms, compared with 'warm' parenting' (being supportive and attentive to a child’s needs) and consistent (setting clear expectations and rules).

Participants were assessed and given a composite score for their internalising (e.g. feeling socially withdrawn or anxious) and externalising (e.g. feeling hyperactive or impulsive) symptoms at ages 3, 5 and 9.

Overall, at age 9, most children were low-risk (83.5%), a small portion were mild-risk (6.43%), and the remaining were considered high-risk (10.07%).

Hostile parenting increased a child’s chances of being in the high-risk group by 1.5-times, and in the mild-risk group by 1.6-times, at age 9.

Consistent parenting was only found to provide some small protection against being in the mild-risk group, and warm parenting had no influence on which group a child ended up in.

Calls for more support when navigating the insurance market for those with mental health problems

The Money and Mental Health Institute has published a guide to help insurers understand how best to support people with mental health problems when they are buying insurance products.

The guide expands on prior research by the charity which found that people with mental health conditions were being discriminated against through product availability and pricing by travel insurers.

Conor D’Arcy, Head of Research and Policy at Money and Mental Health, said:

“People with mental health problems told us about the range of challenges they can face when trying to buy insurance or make a claim. But we’ve also heard positive stories of how well-designed customer journeys and claims processes can help those of us with mental health problems to get good outcomes. That makes us optimistic that if more firms do take action, their services can become more accessible and supportive for customers with mental health problems.

“The guide published today provides practical and tangible steps for firms to start breaking down some of those barriers. Importantly, taking action on these issues will also help insurers meet regulatory expectations under the new Consumer Duty — for example, by making their communications clearer and enabling customers to make better-informed decisions about insurance products.”

Suicide prevention apps lack input from people with experience when being developed – study

Research by the University of Bradford has found that the majority of web-based suicide prevention tools haven’t been co-developed with people that have experienced relevant mental health symptoms, possibly resulting in less engagement by users.

Researchers examined 54 academic and corporate studies that analysed the data of thousands of suicide prevention websites and applications.

They concluded that these apps only had people with lived experience 'passively involved' when they were developed.

“There are more than 10,000 apps and websites aimed at suicide prevention but very few retain users," said Dr Dianne Wepa, associate professor in mental health at the University of Bradford. "This could be because they have not had enough input at the design stage from people who have lost friends, family members or patients to suicide, or those who have suffered suicidal thoughts."

Half of UK managers see rise in employee mental health symptoms

A survey conducted by Peninsula has found that 46% of employers in the UK have seen a rise in mental health issues over the past year.

Although 94% of businesses said they provide support for staff who are struggling with their mental health, only 12% of employees have confided in their boss about their mental health.

Peninsula surveyed 79,000 businesses from across the UK, Ireland, Canada and Australia, with the data showing that each country is seeing struggles with mental health.

“Healthy employees make for a healthy workplace, so it’s encouraging that so many employers are comfortable having conversations around both their own and their employees’ mental health," said Alan Price, chief operating officer of Peninsula Group.

“We’ve all seen the drastic impact that recent world events have had with many struggling to adapt to the ‘new normal’ – and business owners, especially SMEs, are no different. Many are under pressure like never before, and the cost-of-living crisis and rising energy costs are having a significant impact on employers and employees alike.”

Farmers' mental health suffering from poor working conditions

Research by Pilgrim’s UK, Waitrose and the Cooperative on outdoor pig and lamb farms, abattoirs and processing sites, has found that poor working conditions have hit workers' mental health hard.

The research revealed that long and irregular work hours, fluctuating prices and a reliance on family workers without formal contracts of employment have led to workers experiencing symptoms of poor mental health.

The data suggested that these factors were exacerbated by supply-chain issues the industry is facing.


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