*TRIGGER WARNING – study results may disturb*

According to a new study, children who have grown up in divorced or separated families are three times more likely to experience mental health problems.

Image source: Getty Images


University College of London from that 15 per cent of children with a single parent and 18.1 per cent of children living with step-families suffer from mental health problems, with behaviour and hyperactivity problems being the most common traits reported.

This is compared to only 6.6 per cent of children living with both biological parents suffering from mental health problems.

During a recent interview with The Telegraph, Norman Wells from the Family Education Trust said, “This study adds to a mountain of evidence that family stability matters and family breakdown can have a damaging effect on the mental health of children.”

“The fact that a growing number of children lack the advantages of being raised by both their biological parents in a stable family unit is not something we can afford to be complacent about.”


He added that the rise in births outside of marriage is also of concern and deserves further consideration on the impact of children, “In an age that places great emphasis on personal fulfilment at all costs, this study is a salutary reminder that the personal choices we make can have a lasting impact on others and especially on our children.”



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  • This doesn’t surprise me. Think indeed that family stability matters and family breakdown can have a damaging effect on the mental health of children. Children are often loyal to both parents. Parents are often perceived as the rock of their existence. When their rock is no longer a solid unit/foundation the kids often suffer and struggle, even though the parents can be loving.


  • If the divorced parents are also caring parents, then the children won’t suffer long lasting effects.


  • There were lots of loose statements here towards the end that were not backed up by referencing any research.


  • How many children are the victims of a Dad who wants a baby, then changes his mind before the baby is born and walks away. Some don’t acknowledge their children, some say they don’t want anything to do with them, some only want to see them on their terms, when it suits them. Some have them for a weekend and leave them with a babysitter and the children become even more confused etc. Some are raised partly by a Stepfather who accepts them as their own. One of the worst things is when on parent “bad mouths” the other one….or they both do it. When a Dad pays child support he expects it to be used for the benefit of the children, not on unneccessary items only for the Mum, and then the Mum tell the kids she has no money when they need new shoes or something like… would like to go to something special with the school…or play school sports….some sports they have to have white soled shoes.


  • My children come from a broken divorced, tumultuous family with lots of anger & bitterness. All my children are adults now & all suffer from various forms of mental health issues. Some of these issues were diagnosed as children others are only coming out now. Two people make a mistake of marriage to the wrong person 30 years ago & now numerous people are paying the price including 7 grandchildren, my children’s spouses & their spouses grandparents.


  • I’m proof of this, unfortunately. My parents separated/divorced when I was 9 and I didn’t take it well. My younger brother and I have both suffered from depression/anxiety and myself worse things.


  • oh stop analysing everything, and be happy….. everyone has issues nowdays LOL


  • Wow so sad for all involved no one gets married planing on leaving the other person. As hard as it is as long as the kids are not caught in the middle it can be done


  • its so sad. i know a number of children who’s parents have divorced and have had their own problems because of it.


  • Mental health problems are caused by many factors and it would be interesting to have a link to the study and the results.


  • A very interesting article and a reminder as to how our relationships can impact our children.


  • yeah i wish that people would well and truly get to know each other before they get married and have kids.


  • Some relationships don’t last and in this day and age it’s normal to part ways but a child’s best interest and the long lasting effects need to be considered. It’s crucial that parents remain civil for the child/rens sake.


  • Correlation is not causation. We should be very careful to draw conclusions from observational studies. Mental health challenges are multi-factorial and are unlikely to be attributed to one single cause. There are many reasons that partners separate, including domestic violence. Staying in that situation or where a parent is unhappy can definitely be more detrimental to children’s well being, casual reporting of studies such as these make it harder for parents to leave a relationship when it is not in their best interest. Happy parents (whether single or together) = Happy children who grow into happy adults.


  • Interesting study. I am the youngest of five, our parents never divorced or seperated , it’s been other things in our lives that have cause 4 out of five of us to suffer from anxiety and depression.


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