Parental Mental Health

This section of the website will give you an insight into how parental mental health can impact on your child and how to get support if you are worried about it.

Difficulties of Living with a Parent who has Mental Illness

Children are very resilient and can cope with a lot of things in life that upset the balance of things - it cannot be helped that there will be ups and downs with the illness.  Some of the difficulties that children may face when living with parents who have a mental health problem are:

- Feel a sense of blame - illness is their fault
- Risk of developing a mental illness - understanding the illness, having other support and having a good relationship with their parents helps to prevent this
- Separation every time a parent becomes unwell and can't look after children
- Do not get the support, love and care that every child needs
- Have to take on a carer role from a young age
- Teased or bullied by other peers
- Have to listen to discrimination by other of their parents and their condition
- Difficulties at school

These difficulties may not be the experience of every child and there may be other things which are not on this list. It is an indication of some of the difficulties that children may come across when living with a parent who has a mental health problem.

Trying to Make Things Easier

There are some things that can be done in order to make the child’s life easier. Being mentally ill does not automatically mean they cannot stay at home. Have another reliable, consistent adult that they can talk to, give them information and let them understand the illness and try to encourage the child to live like their peers do. It is also important to make sure the parent stays as well as possible and recognises when they are not – having a plan in place for when they are not well. It is up to you who you want to help in these situations. It can be a GP, social worker, friends, other family or other support organisations.

Most Common Mental Health Issues Parents Experience...

Anxiety
Depression
Stress

Anxiety

Anxiety is a term used to describe feelings of unease, worry and fear. This would include the emotions and physical sensations we might experience when worried or nervous about something. Anxiety is related to fight or flight response, which is our normal biological reaction to feeling threatened.

We all know what it's like to feel anxious from time to time. It is totally normal to feel a little anxious or worried about certain situations or something you find particularly stressful, for example:

Sitting an exam
- Work related stress
- Attending an interview
- Starting a new job/school
- Moving away from home
- Deciding to get married or divorced

In situations like this it is understandable to feel a little worried about how you perform or what the outcome will be. You may even find you find it hard to eat, sleep or concentrate because you are worried.