If you are parenting with a mental health problem, there may be times when you need additional support to help you cope. Different types of services are available for you and your family:
|Type of support
|Can help with
If you are finding it hard to get the help you need, an advocate might be able to support you. An advocate is an independent person whose role is to listen to your needs and support your choices.
The Mind Infoline can help you find out whether there's an advocacy service in your area, and NHS Choices has information on specific types of advocacy.
See Mind's guide to advocacy for more details.
- Listening to your views and concerns
- Helping you to find out information
- Exploring different options for support
- Helping you contact relevant people
- Attending meetings and appointments with you
- Supporting you to express your views and wishes
- Helping make sure your voice is heard
Mental health services
If you would like to access a mental health service, talk to your GP or a mental health worker.
They can tell you what support is available and refer you to a local service.
- Health visitor – offers support, advice and information on parenting young children while managing your mental health
- Community mental health team (CMHT) – offers intensive support to help you manage your mental health problem more effectively and cope better as a parent
- Parent and baby unit – a place where you can look after your baby, under the care of a specialist mental health team, while being treated for a mental health problem
See Care Programme Approach
If you need extra support your local authority may be able to advise you and provide some help through social care. To access this, you need to ask for a care and support needs assessment.
The assessment should be carried out in such a way that ensures your involvement and that takes enough time to capture all of your needs. For more information on assessments in England see NHS Choices. In Wales, contact your local Social Services team.
Examples of the types of support that adult social care might be able to help you with are listed in the right hand column.
In addition to support from adult social care services, you and your child may also be entitled to support from children's social care services.
Local authorities have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of any children 'in need' and their families under section 17 of the Children Act 1989. This automatically includes disabled children and any child whose health or development is likely to be negatively affected if the local authority doesn't provide support. The fact that you have a mental health problem won't automatically mean that your child is in need. The local authority has to carry out an assessment of your child's needs to decide this.
Children who perform caring roles are likely to meet the criteria for being a child in need, in recognition that the role can often impact on their health and development.
Adult and children's services should work together in assessing your family's needs.
- Managing money, such as budgeting or paying the bills
- Housework tasks of cleaning, cooking and shopping
- Accessing local services such as peer support groups, employment services, or day centres
- Organising transport or applying for travel passes to attend appointments or services
- Training in parenting skills
- Managing relationships with friends, family or neighbours
- Aids and adaptations to your home or help with mobility issues
- Personal care, such as washing or dressing
- Benefits and housing, such as help with applications, attending appointments or getting advice or information
- Accessing or staying in training, education or employment
- Support from a specialist social worker or support worker
- Support for your child, such as supervised youth clubs or day trips, and respite.
See Care Programme Approach
Charities and voluntary organisations
Support for adults
In certain areas voluntary mental health organisations and family charities may offer services that might be able to help you. You can refer yourself by telephoning, emailing to make an appointment or attending a drop in session.
Find out what support is available in Useful contacts, by getting in touch with the Mind Infoline or by contacting your local Mind.
Support for children
Children with parents who experience mental health difficulties can also benefit from extra support sometimes. There are a wide range of services that offer different kinds of services for varying ages.
To find out what support is available in your area, search online or talk to a relevant professional, such as a GP.
Care Programme Approach: If you are being treated through the Care Programme Approach (CPA) your role as a parent and the needs of your children should be taken into account when considering your health and social care needs.
It's the hardest thing to do but admitting you're struggling and asking for help and support is very important.
This information was published in August 2016. We will revise it in 2019.