With a quarter of children growing up in ‘loveless’ households – where parental relationships have broken down – the government is calling for more people to seek counselling to work through their emotional issues.
Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) show that 24% of households where both biological parents live together are unhappy in their relationship. Growing up in unstable homes can put kids at a social disadvantage in later life, says the DWP, and at higher risk of issues with mental health, substance abuse and lower educational attainment.
“We know that family breakdown – or a damaged parental relationship – can have a devastating impact on children’s prospects as they grow up,” says Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. “Whereas when families are strong and stable, the children tend to have better life chances.”
Conservative MP Andrew Selous, who chairs a parliamentary group for sustainable relationships, adds that people should not feel ashamed to seek counselling support. “We need to remove the stigma around counselling. We have a natural British reserve which assumes there must be some kind of problem if you need counselling. We need people to understand it is essential to their emotional health.”