How does deprivation affect children’s mental health?

Key findings

  • A clear relationship between household income and emotional and behavioural difficulties. Children in lower income households were more likely to have high emotional and behavioural difficulties.
  • A less clear link between household income and children’s depression.

Analysis in The Good Childhood Report 2019 also highlighted the importance of the poverty measure/s used. Financial strain (reported by the parent) was more strongly related to children’s depressive symptoms than household income was.

Other evidence suggests that children’s direct experiences of deprivation may affect their wellbeing much more than objective measures of their family economic status.

Our analysis also shows the importance of measuring a range of mental health issues. Children’s depression at 14 years old is much more strongly connected with self-harming than whether they have emotional and behavioural difficulties.

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