In the UK, approximately one in four of us will experience a mental health issue each year. Issues including money, jobs, bereavement, and benefits are potentially making it harder for people to cope, according to mental health charity, Mind. It doesn’t matter what age or gender you are, mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression can affect you. This is also the case in what many would say is the happiest time of their lives; becoming a parent.
Babythingz, who provide double buggies and pushchairs, explore mental health issues in parents and look at some avenues of support that are available.
Parenthood and mental health
There’s no denying that for those trying for a baby and struggling, mental health problems can arise around the issues of conception and infertility. You may need to seek professional medical advice from a reputable fertility specialist such as Guys & St Thomas.
Although parenthood is exciting, it can be overwhelming too. Raising a child can be very stressful as you become the provider and carer for a person who can’t look after themselves. This can put pressure on yourself and relationships mentally, while also putting a strain on your financial situation. On average, a child will cost an average couple £75,436 from birth to 18 years old — and that doesn’t include housing, childcare and council tax. This cost rises to £102,627 if you are a single parent or guardian. These costs, alongside the high levels of responsibility you face, are two reasons as to why studies have found that around one in five women develop mental health issues while they are pregnant, or within the first year after having a baby. But, what can we do to try to prevent this figure from rising and to stop more father figures being affected too?
A lot of parents think parent and baby groups are a great way to help your child to learn vital skills. While this is true, it is also a great way for parents — especially those who stay at home — to get crucial interaction and boost their mental well-being.
Remember that although many groups require payment for each class, there are also free groups available for those who have very limited spare money. Check out noticeboards at your local child health clinic, GP’s waiting rooms, library, and supermarkets to find classes near you. You can also enquire with your health visitor as they may be able to advise you on which classes to try.
Family Lives is a great resource for help. Family Lives is an organisation which aims to build better family lives. It was registered as a charity in 1999 as Parentline Plus before changing to Family Lives in 2011. It offers core family support services with tailored support. They understand that parenthood can be a rollercoaster of emotions and works with parents, children and families of all age ranges to give them the best possible platform for life.
Another key area of mental health issues they focus on includes a bipolar parenting project which helps parents suffering from bipolar disorder. The project aims to help manage mood changes and impulsivity, while also working to develop a relapse plan. Visit the Family Lives website for more information regarding the services and advice on offer.
This service is provided by the NHS, Tommy’s grants new and expectant mothers in England access to specialist mental health care. It was rolled out to each of the 44 local NHS areas and it’s hoped that by 2024, 54,000 women with moderate to severe mental health issues will get the care they need.
Tommy’s also includes specialist perinatal mental health teams which offer crucial psychiatric care for women who suffer from mental health concerns in pregnancy or early motherhood. Also, the service can offer advice to women with current or previous mental illness before that get pregnant.
Think child – think parent – think family
This scheme is set up by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE). While it’s aimed more at families whose children are no longer babies, it was set up to help parents with mental health problems by providing support and recognition of their responsibilities as a parent. It also notes that a child’s needs must also be addressed. This is because research has found that between 33 per cent and 66 per cent of children whose parents have a mental health problem will experience difficulties themselves.
Furthermore, SCIE understands that it’s a family that needs support, not just an individual. With an estimated two million children living in households with a parent who has a mental health problem, talking as a family can help enhance your bond as well as alleviate pressure caused by not opening up on an issue. A parent’s resilience can often be enhanced if their family, especially children, understand the issue. As well as talking and personal support, however, the scheme highlights the importance of good physical health.
To conclude, there are many services in the UK that help people with any mental health issues they may have, no matter whether they are a parent or not. It’s important to remember that it’s okay not to be okay and to reach out for help whenever you feel it is needed.