Looking after yourself and your family
Being a parent or carer can be hard work at times and if your child is experiencing mental health problems or behaving in a challenging way, it can be even harder. It’s easy to feel it’s somehow all your fault or that you can fix it by doing or saying the right things, but often all you can do is be there for your child and support them through the tough times. It’s important to look after yourself as well and seek advice from your GP if you’re struggling. We’ve also listed some ways of connecting with other parents who might be going through similar issues.
Let us guide you to some of the very best websites and contacts for families. There are more resources in each of the topic sections.
- YoungMinds Information A-Z and Parent’s Survival Guide
- Teaching your child mental health coping skills The Child Mind Institute from the US features videos of children and young people from primary school to young adults talking about different coping skills. Beautifully presented, inclusive, accessible and with skills sheets you can print off.
- NHS 0-18 years section on children’s mental health Lots of links and videos for parents.Well worth a look for their green/amber/red guidance on what’s normal and when to seek help.
- Mental health problems in children and young people: Support for parents and carers from this top mental health charity. Downloadable leaflets, interviews and videos and a link to parent support groups around the UK.
- Parents Toolkit from BBC Bitesize with extra sections for parents and carers of young people with additional needs.
- MindMate is a beautiful website based in Leeds with a good section for parents and carers.
- MindEd Free (login to the families section) has sections on “Talking to my child or teenager”, “Keeping ourselves strong”, “Top parenting tips”, “Parenting in a digital world” and many more.
- Relate website is an amazing resource with sections on step-families, parenting teenagers, gay parents, coping with separation and more. You can even chat with a counsellor for free online. In some areas, Relate also offers face-to-face counselling (at a cost on a sliding scale depending on income) including family therapy.
Looking after yourself and your relationships
- Moodzone: mental health support for you. Advice, interactive tools (like a mood assessment quiz), audioguides and real-life stories
- Click A great online resource for relationship problems – it’s free and you can read other people’s stories or get help from a Click listener. Topics include lies and trust, coping with money problems as a couple, relationship break-ups and parenting when you’ve separated.
- Family Lives – top tips on looking after yourself and for a happier family.
- Families Under Pressure – Check out these short “Top Tip” videos on help with difficult behaviour and help with negative emotions formulated by NHS Mental Health Experts.
- Getting stressed and overwhelmed with being a parent? Check out this Positive Parenting guide on keeping your cool!
- Relate A great online resource for any relationship query. This site offers extensive advice on relationship issues, covering the basics and more taboo topics such as affairs.
- Parentchannel TV has many fantastic videos for all ages covering common parenting issues and advice for looking after yourself, and your partner, bonding with your baby, communicating with your child, keeping your temper and so much more! Each section has multiple videos so click down on the left side to see them all.
Connecting with other parents and parenting classes
- PLACE -Parent Support Network: see what parent support groups might be in your area or get help setting up your own
- Start a Parents Support Group: This leaflet tells how you might go about starting your own support group if there isn’t one in your area.
- New! Online parenting classes for different ages and problems from Family Lives from early years to teens
- Local in-person parenting courses are usually run by city councils or sometimes via local charities and can be a great way to meet other parents with children of a similar age.
Support for brothers and sisters
When someone is struggling with ill health of any kind, the needs of other family members are easily forgotten or sidelined and while that may be unavoidable, there is support available. Brothers and sisters may respond by seeking attention themselves, perhaps with difficult behaviour, but often they will seek to make life easier for you and may avoid burdening you with their own problems.
Top Tip: ‘When you can, set aside just a few minutes for other members of your family every day, to give them your undivided attention, making it clear that this is their protected time. It really made a huge difference in our family ‘ (Tom, Dad)
- Rethink Mental Health Charity: Information for parents including how to talk to your child about their concerns
- Information for siblings on this Childline page on “Supporting a family member with a mental illness”(scroll down for a section on siblings)
- Sibling Link A peer support charity for siblings over 18 years who have a brother or sister with mental illness or who have been bereaved by suicide.
- Sibs For siblings of disabled children and adults