OAKLAND, Calif. (December 3, 2020) – For parents across the nation, the coronavirus pandemic and their children’s mental health are the two biggest causes of stress, and the vast majority of them are actively discussing mental health and well-being with their kids at least once a month, according to a new Blue Shield of California BlueSky survey released today.

BlueSky is the nonprofit health plan’s signature multi-year initiative to support youth mental health. The survey, conducted in October, asked U.S, parents to identify their top stressors in 2020 and what they consider their children’s top stressors. The study follows BlueSky’s first-ever mental health guide for students by students, published this summer with DoSomething.org.

Parents are most concerned about COVID-19 37% their child's mental health 47% COVID-19 health concerns 43% helping their child with remote learning

Parents and youth agree on top stressors

In the new BlueSky Parenting & Mental Health Survey, parents identified three topics as most stressful to talk about with their children: COVID-19 (16 percent), their children's mental health (11 percent), and family finances (10 percent). The results are consistent with findings from BlueSky’s August 2020 youth report, in which nearly 50,000 young people cited remote learning, uncertainty from COVID-19, and financial concerns as the most stressful issues they were coping with.

“COVID-19 has upended lives, from the way people work and study, to their pastimes and social interactions,” said David Bond, LCSW, director of Behavioral Health for Blue Shield of California. “Mental health resources have never been more vital -- and catching the warning signs never more critical -- especially considering this prolonged period of isolation and uncertainty.”

Making a point to discuss mental health

One bright spot in 2020 is that parents are taking mental health very seriously – especially with older teenagers. The survey found that nearly three in four parents (73 percent) of 15- to 17-year-olds are discussing mental health together with their teenager at least once a month.

Other highlights of the BlueSky Parenting & Mental Health Survey include:

  • Four in 10 parents say they turn to family and friends as resources for learning about mental health and well-being of children during the pandemic.
  • Black parents are more than two times more stressed about discussing racial justice protests with their children than white parents (17 percent to 8 percent).
  • Three quarters of Hispanic parents are talking to their kids about mental health at least once a month – the highest percentage among all respondents.
  • Baby Boomers are most willing to discuss mental health amid COVID-19: 62 percent of parents 55 and older say they talk to their children about mental health and well-being at least a few times per month.
  • 14 percent of single parents say they are stressed about discussing family finances with their kids, compared with only 9 percent of two-parent families.
  • When feeling anxious or stressed, 50 percent of parents say they engage in general leisure/entertainment to relax (e.g., watching shows, listening to music).

“Families are navigating unchartered waters with each new season, especially now going into the holidays,” Bond said. “My advice is to be intentionally patient with one another. Parents need to take time to check in with themselves and with their children and ask them, ‘how can I help?’ And remember, if you do not take care of yourself, you cannot take care of others. Talking to each other more can help everyone understand top stressors and build strategies to overcome them.”

“We created the BlueSky program because we understand that mental health is among the top health concerns for young people and the number one reason for hospitalizations,” said Antoinette Mayer, who leads Blue Shield’s Corporate Citizenship work. “Our program is designed to provide more resources and support to educators and students and to erase the stigma around seeking help.”

To see more survey results and find tips and resources for parents on starting mental health conversations and helping their children cope, visit https://news.blueshieldca.com/bluesky.

About Blue Shield of California
Blue Shield of California strives to create a healthcare system worthy of our family and friends that is sustainably affordable. Blue Shield of California is a tax paying, nonprofit, independent member of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association with over 4 million members, 6,800 employees and more than $20 billion in annual revenue. Founded in 1939 in San Francisco and now headquartered in Oakland, Blue Shield of California and its affiliates provide health, dental, vision, Medicaid and Medicare healthcare service plans in California. The company has contributed more than $500 million to Blue Shield of California Foundation since 2002 to have an impact on California communities.

For more news about Blue Shield of California, please visit news.blueshieldca.com.

For more on Blue Shield of California’s youth mental health BlueSky initiative, please visit https://news.blueshieldca.com/bluesky

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BlueSky Parenting & Mental Health Methodology

Blue Shield of California commissioned FINN Partners to conduct a survey online of a total of n=939 U.S. adults (18+) with at least one child under the age of 18. The results are weighted to be representative of all U.S. parents. The survey was fielded October 9-15, 2020. It was conducted using an online interview administered to members of the YouGov Plc panel of individuals who have agreed to take part in surveys. YouGov Plc makes every effort to provide representative information. All results are based on a sample and are therefore subject to statistical errors normally associated with sample-based information.