Parenting with a Mental Illness
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 1 in 5 adults has a mental health condition.
Parenting is a difficult job no matter what, but parents coping with a mental illness can amplify daily life issues. Depending on the particular condition, parents with mental illness have the added challenges of lower energy, irregular sleep, trouble concentrating, shortened attention spans, irritability, or moodiness — all of these factors adding to the difficulty of parenting. But struggling from a mental illness doesn’t mean that you can’t have a healthy family dynamic.
Here are some tips to help you overcome the common challenges of parenting with a mental illness.
Talk with your child about your illness
It can be challenging to talk to your child about your illness. Stephanie Sikma, LMSW, therapist at Tele behavioral Health.US states “children mimic the behaviors they see in their parent. When they see that their parent is willing to open up and discuss their own mental health needs, it empowers the child to do the same.” It is important to educate those closest to you.
If you would like guidance on how to tell your children, it may be a good idea to speak with your psychologist prior.
Stay connected with your child
Do little special things for your child often. This could be snuggling on the couch, eating dinner together, writing a loving note, etc. Just try to put aside quality time for them.
Know that at times you are going fail
Being a parent is tough. Having a mental illness is tough. This can make parenting more complicated than it already is, and you need to accept it is okay to struggle. Use your best days to prepare for your bad days.
Build a support network
Learn the people you can rely on and utilize them when you are having a bad day. If you need help, the best way to ask is to be specific. Ask them to pick up your child after school, if that is what you need that day.
Look after yourself
Take care of yourself so you can take care of your family. Eat healthily, exercise regularly, rest when needed, do activities you enjoy, etc.
It is best to seek outside help for a mental illness
There are many support options, including; psychologists, psychiatrists, family therapists, rehabilitation services, or support groups. Look into different support methods that might be the best for you!
And of course, please reach out to us here at firstname.lastname@example.org to speak with someone.