“During depressive episodes I turned into a remote, unapproachable, critical parent and husband which undermined the relationships with my wife and children. The entire family lived under immense emotional strain which effectively disrupted our attainments in all walks of life. My access to talking therapies has not only aided my personal recovery but created sustainable, constructive parenting skills upon which the entire family are now mindful and supportive of each other’s mental health.” Frank Kitt
For many people the long-term Parenting and Caring Responsibilities outcome will be to remain an effective and reliable parent or carer and as independent as possible in this role.
- 1. What do you want to achieve?
Use this opportunity to recognise any parental or caring relationship you are maintaining or managing well as well as to seek help if you are having difficulty. Your outcome may be to get the support you need to maintain or improve your ability to carry out your parenting/caring role. This may include getting financial support (including the appropriate benefits) or finding opportunities to take breaks from your caring role.
You could discuss parenting/caring issues with your GP, health visitor or mental health professional, or you can seek advice from a local or national advice organisation such as the Citizens Advice Bureau. They can signpost you to various sources of support, as can your local Council. If you think your child is in distress because of your mental illness you can ask the local Council to make an assessment of their needs. They may also be able to provide you with support services.
If you are in hospital your outcome may be to improve your contact with home, or to renew your parenting/caring role when you are back in the community.
We recommend that you routinely consider this area when you come to review your Plan as people’s caring/ parenting responsibilities often change.
2. What actions need to be taken or services need to be provided to achieve your goals?
Next think about the actions that need to be taken to achieve your goals, and what services need to be provided to support you
Services could include:
● Benefits check (e.g. from the Citizens Advice Bureau)
● Guidance and support on parenting from an advice organisation
● Child support services from your local Council
● Specialist support service from a voluntary sector organisation.
Actions could include:
● Joining a carers’ support group
● Joining a local “Parent and Child” club
● Writing an Advance Directive/contingency plan outlining caring arrangements for when you go into hospital
● Providing the person you care for with information on your illness
● Providing information on your situation to your child’s school/playgroup
● Creating an informal support network of relatives, friends, neighbours or colleagues
● Asking your GP or mental health professional about specialist help and support for families
● Setting aside time each day to play or take part in activities with your children
● Establishing regular contact with home when you are in hospital, e.g. by phone call, text or email
● Asking for a dedicated room for family visits so that your children don’t have to enter the hospital ward.
3. Who can support you to achieve your goals?
The main people taking a lead in providing services may be your GP, Health Visitor or (if you are in hospital) your Named Nurse. Your local Council will be able to provide you with advice and may provide support services.
Other supporters may include:
● Child Social Worker
● Citizens Advice Bureau
● Voluntary organisations
● A family member and/or other carer
● Care Coordinator
More resources and links on Caring and Parenting Relationships
[Note: this section provides information specifically for people with a mental illness who have caring or parenting responsibilities. Information for people who care for people with a mental illness can be found through this link https://www.hafal.org/services/carers/ and our “10 Point Plan for Carers” can be found here https://www.hafal.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/10-Point-Plan.pdf ]
● The Mental Health Foundation provides advice on when a parent becomes ill here http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/help-information/mental-health-a-z/P/parents/
● Barnardo’s gives information for young carers, including those whose parent has a mental illness, here http://www.barnardos.org.uk/what_we_do/our_work/young_carers.htm and here http://www.barnardos.org.uk/family_minded_report.pdf
● The Royal College of Psychiatrists has information on “parental mental illness” here http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/healthadvice/parentsandyouthinfo/parentscarers/parentalmentalillness.aspx