The coronavirus pandemic has caused a ‘generational shift’ in attitudes towards mental health according to the latest research by Bupa Global.
Its survey of business leaders found that two thirds of respondents had changed their perception of mental health, and were more now more aware of this problem, particularly with younger family members.
Previously almost half of UK executive (49 per cent) had said mental health in the family could be seen as a sign of weakness, with two in five (42 per cent) stating it would damage their family’s reputation.
But these attitudes have been challenged by the pandemic, with many business leaders spending more time at home and struggling with their own mental health. According to this executive wellbeing index, 68 per cent of respondents said they are able to identify symptoms of mental ill-health in their partner or children, including fatigue, disturbed sleep, anger, impatience or low mood. As a result many more are now committed to supporting their family’s emotional needs in future, in a marked contrast to their own upbringing.
A similar proportion (68 per cent) said their family has become a lot closer since the pandemic and 58 per cent are reconsidering how much time they spend away from the family home in future.
The research also showed that those surveyed want to strengthen their relationship with their children, compared with their own parents, with half of them (51 per cent) admiting to not having a close relationship with own their parents when growing up. Two in five (39 per cent) said they themselves had felt under pressure to live up to their parents’ reputations and to follow a specific path.
The impact of the pandemic means that a quarter (24 per cent) of UK business executives now said won’t put pressure on their children to follow in their footsteps and fewer than one in 10 want their children to be like them.
Bupa Global clinical director for mental health, Dr Pablo Vandenabeele says: “While high expectations of children can be healthy, putting them under too much pressure can be harmful. So it’s really encouraging to see that many of these leaders are keen to ‘break the cycle’ that they may have experienced with their own parents – where mental health was seen as a taboo subject and pressure to follow a specific path was high.
“This year has really made people think about what is important – family, friends, and of course health. If we look at where we are – particularly when it comes to the challenges of home schooling – we can see that children and teenagers have faced some of the toughest challenges of the pandemic and that their mental health has suffered as a result.
“Our research shows that parents are recognising this and are realigning their expectations accordingly, which marks a watershed moment and generational shift in how mental health is perceived, which is very encouraging. Becoming aware that you or someone close to you is struggling is the first step towards getting the help they need.
“At Bupa Global we have multiple resources for those affected by mental health issues and help is available 24/7, so I’d urge any parents who are concerned about a family member to seek help sooner rather than later.”