Explains difficulties you may face as a parent with a mental health problem, support available and suggestions on how to help yourself and your children.
Even if you do your best to manage your mental health, there may be times when you become very unwell and are unable to care for your children. It can be a difficult time to make clear decisions, so it might be helpful to think through what would need to happen in advance.
For example, it can be useful to:
Tracking your mental health and identifying what increases your distress can help you plan to put extra support in place during pressured times. Some people may be able to identify clear patterns in their mental health, whereas for others it may feel a lot less predictable.
If you have periods when you are unwell or find it more difficult to cope, you may find it helpful to think in advance about what practical steps you could take to reduce some of your responsibilities during these times.
Talking to the people closest to you about how you would prefer to manage a crisis can be a good way to plan for the future. This could even prevent a crisis from happening. If it would be helpful to have a record, you could take notes of what you agree.
There are also more formal ways that you can plan for times when it may be hard to make decisions. For more information, see our pages on advance statements and decisions.
Planning in advance for times when you become too unwell to care for your children can reduce stress and worry about what will happen, and minimise any disruption to your children’s lives. It is a good idea to plan the following with someone you trust while you are well:
If there is a chance that you may be admitted to hospital during a crisis, you might also find it useful to plan the following:
"It's like a juggling act – people keep saying I must take time to deal with my mental health but when the children need things it can be almost impossible."
This information was published in April 2019. We will revise it in 2022.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.