Parenting and mental health

Explains difficulties you may face as a parent with a mental health problem, suggesting how you can help yourself, your children, and explains what support is available.

Your stories

Coping with parents' evening

Naomi blogs about living with a mental health problem while coping with some of the challenges of parenthood.

Posted on 14/04/2015

How might my mental health problem affect me?

Many people worry that it will be difficult to cope with parenting if they have a mental health problem. It is natural to be concerned about the impact this will have on you and your children. However, with the right support and resources, it is perfectly possible to be a good parent while managing a mental health problem, and to care for and support your children in a positive way.

All parents face challenges, but if you are coping with a mental health problem, you may face additional difficulties. For example:

  • A mental health problem can make it more difficult to cope with the day-to-day challenges of parenting – for example, anxiety may make you more easily worried, or depression may mean that you have low energy.
  • You may worry about the impact your mental health problem will have on your child – for example, they may experience stress or mental health problems themselves.
  • You or your child may have difficulties because of other people’s negative ideas about mental health problems – for example, people may judge your parenting abilities because you have a mental health problem, or your child may be bullied or teased.
  • If your child has to take on responsibilities around the home to help you, such as preparing food or getting younger siblings ready for school, this may have an impact on their school work or the amount of free time they have to play or see their friends.
  • You may find it hard to seek help, because you are worried that people may see you as a less capable parent, and put pressure on yourself to cope for longer than you are able.
  • There may be times where you become unwell and can’t carry out your usual parenting responsibilities, or have to go into hospital. This can cause practical issues, and cause stress and worry for you and your family.

It can be easy to blame any difficulties you have as a parent on your mental health problems, or try to over-compensate by becoming a ‘perfect parent’. However, it’s important to remember that all parents have difficult times and there is no such thing as being perfect. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself or give yourself too much of a hard time.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember that you can’t do everything exactly right. I do worry about whether my mental health problem makes me a less useful mum to my son. My partner always reminds me that no one’s perfect and I work really hard for my son.

There is so much taboo still as you worry people will think you're not a fit mum. In fact I think you try extra hard to be a good parent.

Watch Nick, Darren and Kate discuss what it's like being a parent with a mental health problem and share their tips on coping.

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