"It can be challenging to discuss mental illness, but being open and honest is important to ensure children get the support they need to live healthy lives," said Jamie Anderson, deputy chair of RBC Capital Markets and executive champion of the RBC Children's Mental Health Project. "Many parents don't feel equipped to have those conversations with their children. That's why the RBC Children's Mental Health Project funds so many organizations that provide information and resources to help parents and families."
Other findings from the 2012 RBC Children's Mental Health Parents Poll
The gender gap:
mothers and fathers take a different approach
There were significant differences in how mothers and fathers would handle certain problem behaviours. While both genders said they would monitor aggressive behaviour first before seeking help, men are more likely to try and manage on their own.
While the majority of fathers would feel worried if their child showed signs of a potential mental illness, they are less inclined to feel this way than women (55 per cent compared to 65 per cent). On the other hand, women are more likely to seek out information on children's mental health than men (60 per cent compared to 50 per cent).
Parents lack credible information on mental health, many rely on internet
The RBC poll showed that access to accurate information on children's mental health is a big issue for parents. The majority (53 per cent) of parents who have looked for information on children's mental health or illness say that finding information they can trust is a nightmare. Over half (58 per cent) feel overwhelmed by the volume of information available. Most parents opt for an online search as their first source of information (35 per cent) followed by the family doctor (22 per cent) and school personnel including counsellors or teaching staff (12 per cent).
Stigma around mental health is still a problem for parents
The RBC poll found that one significant barrier to early intervention, diagnosis and treatment of a child's mental health issue may be perceived stigma. An overwhelming majority of parents agree that children with a mental health condition are stigmatized among their peers (84 per cent) or among adults (76 per cent). Over one-quarter of parents (27 per cent) admit they would feel embarrassed if people found out their child had a mental health condition.
"Stigma is a significant barrier that we can all overcome, whether you have a diagnosed child or not," added Anderson. "Many parents have a natural tendency to protect their children from the judgment of others, but this can prevent early treatment and intervention that's necessary to help in the long run."