Mental Health Ireland highlighted the impact of home schooling on the mental health of Irish households as many parents report feeling more stressed and less confident as a result of the experience.
While 62% felt a strain has been put on the child’s relationship as a result of home schooling, 6 in 10 parents described feeling more connected to their children as a result of spending more time at home.
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A poll carried out by RED C for Mental Health Ireland saw that almost a quarter of Irish households have been home schooling under Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions.
Along with concerns relating to Covid-19 and financial problems, home schooling proved to be the next most stressful concern for many Irish parents.
The poll showed that almost 70% of parents voiced self-doubt as they compared themselves to other parents’ experience of home schooling.
The poll discovered that 2 in 5 parents home schooling are sleeping and exercising less, and 1 in 5 say their alcohol consumption has increased.
This stress was compounded by the competing demands of housework and isolation felt by many families. The Mental Health Ireland/RED C survey discovered that 70% of children had no social contacts outside of their immediate family during the latest lockdown.
Martin Rogan, CEO of Mental Health Ireland said, “While families across Ireland continue to show great resilience and resourcefulness in coping with recent challenges, it’s telling that 70% felt that they weren’t doing as well as other parents. These feelings may have been heightened by use of social media and scrolling through filtered images of tidy homes, smooth scheduling and productive afternoons when the reality is very different.”
Mr Rogan added, “Schools have worked hard to respond to the challenges of home schooling using a variety of different online and remote formats, however 45% of respondents felt that there was no mental health or wellbeing content in the home schooling lessons when this should be prioritised in supporting our young people.”
Colman Noctor, Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and Board Member of Mental Health Ireland stressed the importance of social connections for children and young people outside of the home.
“When we conducted the survey, we were considering parental stress and what we found was 80% of parents were stressed, many with decreased sleep, exercise and increased alcohol intake. These indicators are worrying when we combine them with the fact that 70% of children had no social contact outside of the family home, with others having no live interactive contact from their school. This mix of stressed parents and isolated children does not bode well for the mental health needs of families,” said Mr Noctor.
“A lot of what is said is that we were under prepared for this lockdown. These findings highlight the things that we need to improve should we ever have to go into lockdown again. The social isolation stats are worrying from a child development point of view and as we look towards the reopening of schools in the coming weeks we have to be aware of the impact of three months of social isolation for many of these children as they prepare to re-board,” he added.