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Failed families linked to mental illness rise as psychiatric health bill hits £105bn
By Gerri Peev
Last updated at 7:58 AM on 7th February 2011
Family breakdown: Children from broken homes are more likely to suffer depression, commit crime and die younger, finds new research.
Family breakdown is leading to an increase in mental illness, leading experts have warned.
They found that children from broken homes are more likely to go on to suffer depression, commit crime and die younger.
The financial burden of family breakdown on the State is an estimated £24billion – while poor mental health costs taxpayers £105billion a year.
The research has been unveiled ahead of a speech on the importance of marriage by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith tomorrow.
Mr Duncan Smith will say: ‘Government cannot and should not try to lecture people or push them on this matter.
‘But it is quite legitimate to ensure people have the opportunity to achieve their aspirations to marry.’
Ministers will also advance plans for a £30million relationship support fund, which will be spent on counselling to help families stay together.
The report, published today by the respected Centre for Social Justice – a think-tank founded by Mr Duncan Smith – warns that depression and anxiety rates have risen for 15 and 16-year-olds since the mid-1980s.
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Behavioural problems such as lying, stealing and disobedience have also become more prevalent.
The report, Mental Health: Poverty, Ethnicity and Family Breakdown, says: ‘Family breakdown and conflict were considered to have the biggest adverse impact on children’s well-being.
Proposals: Iain Duncan Smith will advance plans for a £30million relationship support fund to help families stay together
‘Conflict between parents has been associated with an array of adjustment problems in children, for instance poor peer interaction, conduct problems, ill health, and depression and anxiety.
‘Children with separated, single or step-parents are 50 per cent more likely to fail at school, have low self-esteem, experience poor peer relationships and have behavioural difficulties, anxiety or depression.’
The report concludes that: ‘Child-rearing is one of the most challenging tasks in life and ideally it requires two people.’
Half of all children born in Britain today will live in a broken home.
The report also points out that half of lifetime mental illness starts by the age of 14 and in three quarters of cases, it hits by the time people are in their mid-twenties.
Mental illness accounts for a quarter of the years lost through premature death – more than the toll from cancer and heart disease.
Greater social acceptance of divorce has not lessened the impact on children of parents splitting up, the report concludes.