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Poor Mental Health: The links between child poverty and mental health problems

Children’s mental health is beginning to get the attention that it deserves, and there has been an effort from Government to achieve parity of esteem with physical health. However, access to support is not always easy for those that need it.

There is a wide variety of evidence to show that children who live in poverty are exposed to a range of risks that can have a serious impact on their mental health, including debt, poor housing, and low income. Our original analysis has found that children living in poverty are more likely to feel like a failure, useless and hopeless about their future than their more affluent peers.

Yet in spite of this evidence, Government policy and Mental Health Trust priority groups too often don’t recognise children in poverty as a vulnerable group.
Our research found that only 1 in 10 mental health trusts see children in poverty as a priority group for access to mental health services.

This is also set in the context of a projected rise in child poverty over the next five years. It is a real concern that cuts to support for low income families have the potential to entrench the impact of poverty on the mental health and well-being of children across the UK. This report sets out a number of areas for further exploration, and makes recommendations for Government to better address the mental health needs of children and young people living in poverty.