Exploring the Universe of Parental Mental Health

Parents dealing with mental health conditions can still provide a safe, nurturing environment for their children without any adverse effects. There are some parents, however, who require additional support for their mental well-being from friends, family, neighbors, and healthcare professionals, all of which is completely okay and normal.

There’s a range of mental health conditions people grapple with, including, but not limited to:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Eating Disorders
  • Personality Disorders

The severity and symptoms associated with each mental health condition can differ wildly between individuals, contingent on their personal circumstances, life experiences, and the kind of treatment or support they are receiving.

Certain parents might have been experiencing mental health conditions even before deciding to start a family. Such conditions could recur during pregnancy or post childbirth due to hormonal disruptions or the pressures of parenting.

Overcoming Parenting Hurdles With Mental Health Conditions

Parenting is a demanding job in itself, regardless of whether one is battling a mental health condition or not. But those coping with mental illness sometimes face very difficult and strenuous challenges as parents, such as:

  • Anxiety-induced worries about everyday parenting scenarios, like leaving your child in someone else’s care, which can impact decisions about returning to work. The constant worry can affect day-to-day functioning.
  • Depressive episodes might leave you feeling constantly exhausted, making it hard to perform daily tasks, particularly with young, demanding children and sleepless nights.
  • Mood swings associated with your mental health condition can be challenging to explain to children, especially younger ones, often leading to feelings of guilt and overwhelm.
  • Seeking professional help can seem daunting due to fear of judgment or being too preoccupied with other tasks.
  • Some parents may be unable to work due to their mental health condition, which can raise financial concerns.

Some parents may choose to conceal their mental health struggles from their children for protective reasons. But sometimes, sharing your struggles can be beneficial as it can help them better understand your moods and behaviors. Keeping them in the dark can sometimes lead to:

  • Fears about what might happen to them or their parent
  • Self-blame for the parent’s emotional state
  • Fear of developing the same condition
  • Stigma
  • Confusion about their circumstances

At times, personal experiences can trigger or exacerbate existing mental health conditions, such as:

  • Divorce/separation
  • Job loss
  • Financial hardships
  • Substandard housing
  • Discrimination
  • Lack of social support
  • Domestic violence
  • Substance abuse

There are resources and support systems in place for parents dealing with mental health issues, including:

Resources:

STEM – Free Webinar at 7pm for parents with mental illnesses and their children.

NSPCC – Parental Mental Health Challenges

MentalHealth.org – Parenting and Mental Health

Safeguarding Network – Parental Mental Ill-Health

Mind Charity – Parenting and Mental Health