Mental health risks of Grandparents caring for grandchildren

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According to the Grandparent’s Association, grandparents who are caring for their grandchildren regularly are suffering mentally and physically and grandparents denied contact with their grandchildren are suffering even more.

The information comes from a study ‘Grandparents Voices’ commissioned by the Grandparent’s Association and carried out by Professor Bob Broad of London South Bank University.

Prior to this research, very little research had been carried out on the health and well being of grandparents caring for grandchildren or denied contact with them.

The results showed that 40 percent said their mental health had suffered, 55 percent said their physical health had suffered and 70 percent had experienced sleep problems.

The study also revealed that 81 percent of grandparents who had been denied contact with their grandchildren said their mental health had suffered.

Professor Broad’s study also revealed that a whopping 82 percent of grandparents in the UK care for their grandchildren in some form and that many felt they had no choice as they didn’t want their grandchildren going into care.

Of the 200 grandparents who took part in the London South Bank University study, 72 were looking after their grandchildren full time and had taken on the ‘parental’ role as a result of issues like mental health problems, addiction, and child protection issues.

“The evidence unearthed in this groundbreaking study indicates that grandparents’ voices need to be more fully acknowledged and grandparents’ better supported, if positive valuable grandparent-grandchildren relationships and other family relationships are to be sustained and not fractured” said Professor Broad.

“Grandchildren need to be brought up within secure, safe and loving families….this research study concludes that when grandchildren ‘at risk’ can no longer be brought up by their birth parents, and instead are brought up 24/7 by their grandparents, these grandparents need considerably more recognition, support and services than they currently receive.”

Professor Broad also pointed out that in terms of public policy, no matter what government was in power at the time, grandparents are still presented as a “public utility” as “largely unpaid child care contributors”.

The Grandparents association was launched in 1987 by a group of grandparents whose grandchildren had been put into care, adopted from care or were denied contact with their grandchildren.

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