Parenting with a mental illness

This short booklet provides answers to FAQs, useful links and information about parenting with a mental illness.

It’s perfectly natural for parents who have a mental illness to be concerned about the impact it might have on their child, but with the right support and resources, it is perfectly possible to be a good parent while managing a mental health problem.

Some initial ideas to start a conversation with your child about mental illness include:

  • Ask the child what they are feeling? Give examples such as sad, worried and frightened.
  • Ask if they are worried about anything and give a number of options so the child can begin to think and say ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘maybe’.
  • Ask them what they have noticed about your symptoms and what they understand about them? This will change according to their age; children notice different things at different ages.
  • You might explain that you are sometimes unwell and you have good and bad days.
  • Encourage your child to talk to other trusted family members so that they have someone to turn to when they are scared.
  • Help them to talk about their feelings but don’t assume you know what they are thinking and feeling. Listen and encourage them to express themselves.
  • Look after yourself and get help when you need it. This helps your child to have the courage to ask for help when they need it too.

Keeping in contact with your friends and the support systems that are available is also a great idea. Be open to help from friends, relatives and respite services provided by local charities and local authorities. It is not good for the family to become isolated and you can encourage your child to take part in social activities such as music, sport or anything that helps them to de-stress and feel safe and included.

Find out much more by clicking the download button for the booklet.

Parenting with a mental illness

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