Did you know alcohol can affect children’s mental health? - Balance

Real Life

05 February 2020

Did you know alcohol can affect children’s mental health?

It’s Children’s Mental Health Week and Balance is highlighting the impact alcohol can have on the mental health of young people in the region.

With mock exams on the horizon for Year 11 pupils and GCSE and A Level exams coming up in the summer, the North East’s Alcohol Office, is encouraging parents to talk to their children about alcohol and how it can affect how they feel.

As well as increasing the risk of accidents, injuries, smoking and drug taking, drinking can damage children’s developing brains, liver, bones and hormones, affect their performance at school, making them more tired and more likely to fall behind. It is linked to stress, depression and self-harming behaviour.

The Chief Medical Officer (CMO)’s guidance recommends that an alcohol-free childhood up to 18 is the healthiest and best option, and that if children do drink this should not be before age 15.

Balance is supporting Place2Be’s Children’s Mental Health Week and highlighting the important CMO guidance on alcohol, as well as calling on parents and teachers to be aware of the effect alcohol can have on a young person’s mental wellbeing.

Susan Taylor, Partnerships Manager at Balance, said: “Every parent wants their child to be feeling alert and in the best possible physical health – and especially so for the workload and stresses during the run ups to exams.

One in eight children and young people have a diagnosable mental health condition and it is vital that we do everything we can to raise awareness of the importance of children’s mental health.

“A young person’s brain continues to develop until they are in their mid-20s and drinking before adulthood can change or delay the development of the logical, thoughtful part of their brains. The alcohol industry may have us think that alcohol is a harmless commodity. In reality, drinking can lead to stress and depression, as well as leaving children feeling tired, sluggish and not able to perform their best at school.

“Our research shows that many parents think that providing children with alcohol in a supervised environment helps to prevent them becoming heavier drinkers, when it may be giving the green light to drinking in and outside of the home.

“As well as being good role models ourselves, as parents, one of the most positive things we can do is have a conversation with our children to make them aware of the negative effects of alcohol. They may be feeling the pressure with exams coming up, so now is a good time to talk about keeping focused and staying positive during a stressful time.”