Go back a step

Three quarters of families with disabled children feel so isolated that it has caused anxiety, depression and breakdown

Monday 5th December 2011

Our new report, 'Forgotten Families' shows social, emotional and financial isolation causes almost three quarters (72%) of families with disabled children to experience poor mental health such as anxiety, depression or breakdown. Almost half (49%) reported feeling so unwell- they have asked their GP for medication or to see a counsellor. Findings of the report also include:

  • One in five (21%) say that isolation has led to a break up of their family or marriage
  • Over half (56%) reported the cause of their isolation is due to a lack of support from statutory services such as social services and the education system
  • 57% said that they were not able to work as much as they would like to
  • 50% feel that their isolation has been caused by the discrimination or stigma they have experienced.

Read the full report
Read additonal information about the impact on Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland 

Contact a Family is now calling on local authorities to provide sufficient early intervention services such as key workers, children's centres and short breaks. In addition the charity is urging national government not to go back on its promise to protect vulnerable families and ensure planned welfare reform changes don't increase the isolation currently being experienced by the UK's forgotten families.

Srabani Sen, Chief Executive of Contact a Family, says: "Isolation is having a devastating impact on the health and well being of some of society's most vulnerable families. We are extremely concerned that this is going to get worse in the current economic climate because of a lethal combination of cuts to statutory and voluntary services as well as a reduction in families' income due to welfare reforms. Families are fearful about this situation, which will lead to further stress, isolation and poor mental health.

"Effective early intervention services and financial help allow families with disabled children to take control of their lives, hold down a job, be more involved in their community and feel less isolated. They also ensure that disabled children can participate fully in society and enjoy fun social opportunities."

Star's support

Strictly Come Dancing star Alesha Dixon is supporting Contact a Family and says: "My younger brother has cerebral palsy so I understand how easy it can be for close family members of a disabled child to feel isolated and alone - not because there aren't enough people around, but because no one you know can relate to your experience.

"The unique work that Contact a Family does is vital in reducing the isolation that families with disabled children experience. They provide a life line for these families. I'm delighted to support the charity as it aims to raise awareness of the very real issues, like isolation, faced by families of the 770,000 disabled children in the UK."