18% of working parents affected by rise in teen mental illness, study finds

The abrupt onset of mental health issues among teens has affected the work performance of nearly one-fifth of working parents, a study commissioned by Cigna and conducted by Economist Impact found.

Researchers surveyed 1,100 U.S. parents of children ages 13-17 in April 2022.

According to the report, approximately 80 percent of working parents surveyed reported the pandemic had some effect on the mental health of their teenage children, including new or increased levels of anxiety, depression, behavioral issues and problems with social interactions. 

When asked about issues parents reported facing, 64 percent reported finding a trustworthy mental health provider for their children, 63 percent reported long delays and wait times to receive treatment, and 57 percent reported challenges paying for mental health services. 

Approximately 18 percent of working parents surveyed reported a negative effect on their work performance and output, resulting in nearly 14 percent of all respondents having to leave or stay out of the workplace completely to better care for their teens. 

Of the parents surveyed, 55 percent reported they felt a lack of support from their employer to allow for proper care of their children, citing inflexible work schedules, with 44 percent feeling uncomfortable asking for support from their employer at all. 

Some ways Cigna recommends employers support working parents:

  • Fostering a business culture that values mental health through encouraging discussion of mental health conditions
  • Making accommodations, such as flexible work schedules
  • Helping connect them to benefits and resources, such as education on available benefits and programs to help both their families and themselves

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