Parental Mental Health

This section of the website will give you some information and tips on Anxiety, Depression and Stress. It will also give an insight into how parental mental health can impact on your child and how to get support if you are worried about it.

World Health Day - Depression: Let's Talk

World Health Day is celebrated every year on the 7th April which marks the anniversary of the World Health Organisation being founded. It provides an opportunity to mobilize action around a specific health topic of concern to people all over the world.

This year the theme is Depression.

Depression is a low mood that causes people to experience depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration. It lasts for a long time, and affects your everyday life.

Depression in it's mildest form can just mean being in low spirits, but it's more than just feeling down or sad. Depression will cause a person to have intense feelings of hopelessness, negativity and helplessness which they find very difficult to get rid of.

It can happen to anyone. Many successful and famous people who seem to have everything going for them battle with this problem. Depression also affects people of every age.


Below are some of the common signs and symptoms of depression.

How you might feel How you might behave
down, upset or tearful avoiding social events and activities you usually enjoy
restless, agitated or irritable self-harming or suicidal behaviour
guilty, worthless and down on yourself finding it difficult to speak or think clearly
empty and numb difficulty in remembering or concentrating on things
isolated and unable to relate to other people using more tobacco, alcohol or other drugs than usual
finding no pleasure in life or things you usually enjoy difficulty sleeping, or sleeping too much
a sense of unreality feeling tired all the time
no self-confidence or self-esteem no appetite and losing weight, or eating too much and gaining weight
hopeless and despairing physical aches and pains with no obvious physical cause
suicidal moving very slowly, or being restless and agitated
Helping yourself...

Experiencing depression can make it difficult to find the energy to look after yourself. Taking an active role in your treatment, and taking steps to help yourself cope with your experiences, can make a big difference to how you feel.

Looking after yourself

- Getting a good sleep can help to improve your mood and increase your energy levels.
- Eating a balanced and nutritious diet can help you feel well and think more clearly.
- Many people find exercise a challenge but gentle activities like yoga, swimming or walking can be a big boost to your mood.
- When you're experiencing depression, it's easy for hygiene to not feel like a priority. But small things, like taking a shower and getting fully dressed whether or not you're going out of the house, can make a big difference to how you feel.
- While you might want to use drugs or alcohol to cope with any difficult feelings, in the long run they can make you feel a lot worse.

Practice self-care

- Try making a list of activities, people and places that make you happy or feel good and then try to find ways of bringing those things into your daily routine.
- Treat yourself when you're feeling down. Try to do at least one positive thing for yourself every day. This could be taking the time for a long bath, spending time with a pet or reading your favourite book.
- Boost your resilience - you could do this by creating a list of activities you know improve your mood, or you could fill an actual box with things to do to cheer yourself up when you're not feeling your best.
- Be kind to yourself - try not to beat yourself up too much when things don't go to plan or you find yourself feeling low. Treat yourself like you would a friend and go easy on yourself.

Keep yourself busy

- Try joining a community group, sports team or other hobby group. The important thing is to find an activity you enjoy, or perhaps something you've always wanted to try, to help you feel motivated.
- Try something new, like starting a new hobby, learning something new or even trying new food, can help boost your mood and break unhelpful patterns of thinking and behaviour.
- Try volunteering, this can help in making yourself feel better by helping others and also help you feel less alone.
Remember, that whilst it would be beneficial to get out and do these things if you're not feeling your best it can be difficult, so make sure you set yourself achievable goals. If you can achieve realistic goals can help you feel good and boost your self-confidence, and help you move on to bigger ones.

Challenge your low mood
- Keep a mood diary - this can help you keep track of any changes in your mood, and you might find that you have more good days than you think. It can also help you notice if any activities, places or people make you feel better or worse.
- Challenge your negative thinking - Students Against Depression have lots of information on this.
- Contact a helpline if you're struggling with difficult feelings, and you can't talk to someone you know, there are many helplines you can contact where you can speak to people who are trained to listen and could help you feel more able to cope with your low mood.

Connect with people
- Keep in touch with friends and family. If you don't feel up to seeing people in person, or talking, send them a text or email.
- It might feel hard to start talking to your friends and family about what you're feeling, but many people find that just sharing their experiences can help them feel better.
- Join a support group or attend a programme. Going to a support group or a programme is a great way to share tips and meet other people who are going through similar things.
- Use online support - this can be useful when you don't feel able to do things in person. Online support is another, useful means of building a support network for yourself.

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.

A common response to anxiety is to ignore it. It can be difficult but if you can, facing up to how anxiety makes you feel can be the first step to breaking the cycle.

There are many things you can try to help you cope with anxiety. Here are a few suggestions of things you can do to work out how to manage your fears and reduce your anxiety.

Talk to someone you trust
Sometimes just talking to someone about what makes you anxious can make a difference. They might have even experienced similar feelings themselves and be able to chat through it with you or give you some suggestions as to how they coped. Having someone who will listen and show that they care can help.

Learning relaxation techniques can help you with the mental and physical feelings of anxiety. Try breathing exercises which may help you feel calmer.

Shift your focus

You may find it helpful to distract yourself from the way you are feeling. Mindfully observe a flower or picture, anything you find interesting or comforting. You might also find it helpful to use a stress ball or focus on completing a puzzle.

Listen to music
Some people find music comforting, listening to music that you find peaceful or that you enjoy can help you feel better. Try making yourself an upbeat playlist for when you're feeling down or worried.

Going for a walk or a run can help you get some time to yourself to clear your mind. If you're not able to do physical activities outdoors, or have limited mobility, there are smaller activities you can do indoors that may help too.

Eating Healthy

You may find it easier to relax if you avoid stimulants such as coffee, cigarettes and alcohol. Some people also find a healthy diet helps them to manage anxiety better.