Parenting with mental health challenges

Working with youth, I’m well aware of the challenges young people face when struggling with a mental illness.  But it got me thinking…what if the situation was reversed?

Parenting with a mental illness can have its challenges and it is important to understand what types of support you may need. When parenting with a mental health issue, you may require resources beyond the supports typically offered, such as:

  • Access to accurate information
  • Problem solving assistance
  • Mentoring
  • Respite care
  • Community support services

Below are some tips and positive steps to take when parenting with a mental illness:

  1. Get treatment. When you are a parent, it becomes even more important to set an example by seeking help for your illness. It is a way to role model healthy choices by acknowledging you need help and taking action.
  2. Surround yourself with supportive individuals. Rena mentioned social supports. Her supports include her husband, neighbours, and friends. People who respect you and understand your situation can support you and your children. They can also help with the isolation that sometimes comes with mental illness.
  3. Take care of yourself. Just as you are likely to immediately attend to your children’s needs when they become sick, do the same for yourself. If you are ill and unable to attend work, or are not up for a social outing, let people know. Stay home and get the help you need. Participating in hobbies or other activities you enjoy is another great way to make sure you are looking after yourself. This keeps you in touch with who you are and gives an opportunity for “me time”.
  4. Develop a care plan. In case you become unwell or require hospitalization, develop a plan of action, including details on child care, where your children might stay and how they will get to school.
  5. Get early assessment and intervention for your kids if you suspect they may be experiencing problems. Children of parents with mental health issues have a higher risk of developing social, behavioural, or emotional issues because of their genetic or other environmental influences.
  6. Enroll your kids in extracurricular activities. It allows them to connect with other healthy peers and adults and is one of many protective factors that may decrease risk of developing mental health concerns.

If you require immediate support, contact COAST (Crisis Outreach and Support Team) at 1-877-825-9011, or go to your nearest hospital Emergency Department.

For more tips and hints about mental health, or to share your experience, there are many ways you can talk to one of us directly:

  • Leave us a comment below – we’d love your feedback
  • Talk to us on Twitter: @haltonparents
  • Email us at haltonparents@halton.ca
  • Dial 311 or 905-825-6000 for parenting information or to speak directly to a Public Health Nurse every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

About this guest blogger:

Saeeda Ifran has been a Youth Facilitator with the Youth Net Program at Halton Region for 3 years.  She is currently completing her Master’s of Public Health student placement with the same program and is happy to be contributing towards improved mental health in youth.

This entry was posted in Babies, Mental Health, Parenting, School-aged Children, Teens, Toddlers and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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