Worries about mental health in the family are among the main reasons parents and carers get in touch with Children 1st Parentline. We will listen, help you think through next steps, help you work on your relationships and recommend any specialist organisations that could provide further advice and support.
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Children 1st Parentline can provide ongoing support to families experiencing mental health issues. Parents have told us the following things have helped their child to cope:
Most often mental health conditions are best helped by having someone to talk to. Relationships can help recovery.
As a parent you can help by listening to your child and empathising with their stress, even if you think their worries sound trivial or overblown – they will be very real for your child. If your child finds it difficult to talk about this with you, is there another adult they trust, who they can open up to.
Try to put yourself in your child’s position. Try not to diagnose them, fix them or dismiss what they’re saying. When you really listen your child feels respected and valued.
Show you understand by saying things like: “That sounds really hard” and “We’ll get through this together. You won’t always feel like this.” Try to avoid knee-jerk phrases like “You need to pull yourself together” or “Don’t be silly”. This is likely to make them scared to tell you their feelings in future.
Children experiencing poor mental health can feel as though they are totally alone in their suffering.
Your relationship and your child’s relationships with key people will help their recovery and wellbeing. Make sure your child knows you are there to help them get better – and you’ll do it as a team.
It can be very distressing to be a parent who discovers their child is feeling mental distress. It is important to stay calm. Remember, most mental health conditions are treatable and people recover, just as with physical health conditions.