More than half (53 per cent) of parents surveyed reported that their primary schooler had displayed mental health challenges in the past 12 months, and approximately one in three parents (37 per cent) stated that their child had been formally diagnosed with a mental health or neurodevelopmental condition, with ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, and anxiety being among the most common diagnoses.

The study also highlighted gaps in accessing mental health support, with more than a third (35 per cent) of parents admitting to not seeking any form of assistance for their child.

“These statistics underscore the critical need for proactive measures to support the mental health of children and their families,” Kirrilie Smout, clinical child psychologist and founder of Calm Kid Central, says.

Calm Kid Central is an online program designed to assist children dealing with emotional, social, or life challenges through interactive lessons, games, and access to an online forum of child psychologists to support parents and caregivers.

“Research suggests early intervention is linked with better outcomes for children later in life,” Smout says.

More than eight in ten (85 per cent) parents surveyed said their child’s mental health challenges had impacted their family’s daily life, citing strain on parent-child relationships, difficulty balancing caregiving responsibilities, changes in daily routines or activities, and financial implications.

“By providing comprehensive support systems encompassing mental health services and family support, we can empower families to navigate these challenges effectively,” Linda Opie, HCF’s head of Health & Wellbeing, says.

Alarmingly, six in ten (61 per cent) parents surveyed reported personally facing mental health challenges in the past 12 months because of their primary schooler’s mental health issues, with one in eight (12 per cent) saying they hadn’t sought any support for themselves.

“Everyone’s mental health journey is different, and often finding where to go for support for yourself or your loved ones can be challenging,” Opie says.

“Almost all of us will face stress, anxiety or depression at some point in our lives, and we know mental wellbeing is just as important as physical wellbeing,” Opie says.

“By reaching out for help, parents can take the first step towards supporting their child’s and their own mental wellbeing.”

Lifeline on 13 11 14

Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800

MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978

Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467

Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36

Headspace on 1800 650 890

QLife on 1800 184 527