Revealed: One quarter of young people rely on grandparents for emotional support

  • One quarter (26%) of 16-24-year-olds surveyed say they turned to grandparents when feeling anxious, sad or unhappy as a child
  • More than a quarter (29%) of 65-74-year-olds surveyed never opened-up about their mental health during childhood, compared to 8% of 16-24-year-olds
  • Almost half of Brits (48%) still don’t seek help for mental health due to being scared of what others might think

London, UK, 12 May 2022: Generational divide in mental health continues to dominate, with new research from later living operator Inspired Villages today revealing the invaluable role grandparents play in protecting their loved ones. Despite over 65s typically having challenges with understanding and accepting their own mental health, a quarter of 16-24-year-olds surveyed have been found to turn to their grandparents for emotional support from childhood.

Although a significant influence on the mental health practices of 16-24-years-olds, looking to parents, grandparents and teachers for emotional support as a child was clearly not replicated for the over 65s. Over a quarter (28%) of those aged 65-74 surveyed and almost a third (31%) of those aged 75+ admit they didn't speak to anyone if they were feeling anxious sad or unhappy throughout their childhood. This figure drops considerably to just 1 in 10 (8%) 16-24-year-olds who said they don’t turn to anyone in the same circumstances.

When it comes to influence on perception and practices, the study suggests that when today’s retirees were growing up, parents and grandparents were less involved in teaching their children about mental health. Almost three quarters (72%) of those aged 75+ surveyed stated that their parents or grandparents never taught them about mental health, compared to just one in five (20%) of those aged 16-24.

There is a need for more openness surrounding mental health awareness across all generations, with around 1 in 4 people experiencing a mental health problem of some kind each year in England (Mind, 2022) . Almost half of Brits (48%) admit they have previously not sought mental health support because they were worried about what others might think. Concerningly, two thirds (67%) of 16-24-year-olds surveyed admit this compared to 19% of over 65s.

Mental health awareness and activities are crucial for supporting physical and mental wellbeing for the over 65s, a generation in which 1 in 4 are known to be struggling (Age UK, 2019). Often in silence. Along with physical activity, trying new things, and spending time with friends and family, the role of intergenerational relationships provides extra support to this age group when navigating their mental health journeys. Friendships with both older and younger people are known to help to keep over 65s in touch with the world as it changes (Mental Health UK, 2021)

Jamie Bunce, CEO of Inspired Villages, says: “This research suggests an opportunity for parents, grandparents, children and grandchildren to encourage positive mental health through education and emotional support. Of note, over 65s having sufficient education and practices to support their own mental health will not only support their own wellbeing, but influence that of younger generations, too.

“It is the responsibility of all who provide later living to over 65s to help navigate what may seem unknown, help to reduce any stigma that’s so wrongly attached and help to show the possibilities of living, managing and thriving with mental health challenges.”

Inspired Villages provides support to over 65s across its villages and throughout surrounding communities. This ranges from the role of Wellbeing Navigators in providing age-appropriate living, exercise, activities and mental health support, to initiatives such as Inspired Friendships whereby the community is encouraged to engage with and experience new things with like-minded people of a similar age. For more information on Inspired Villages or become part of the Inspired Friendships community, please visit: [email protected]

Join our mailing list

Want to find out more?

We run events at our Inspired Villages all year around. Join our mailing list to get all of the updates on our future events.

Join our mailing list