Since mental illness affects about 1 in 4 Americans, it’s pretty common for parents to face mental health challenges.
Understanding your mental health is important for yourself and your family. Remember:
- Children are naturally curious and, even as infants, they are sensitive to your emotional states.
- Your children and family have many strengths that can help them help you. You have contributed to these strengths.
- Your mental illness is no one’s fault; it’s certainly not your fault or your children’s fault.
- By talking and working together, your family can deal with your mental health challenges and even thrive.
Children may ask:
- What are mental illnesses?
- Who can get them?
- What causes them?
- How do you get better?
You can compare mental illness to a physical illness, such as the flu, in order to help your child understand. Talk honestly about mental health issues early on, keeping in mind your child’s developmental stage.
Support networks are important for all parents, but can be extremely helpful for parents affected by mental illness. When you have support, you’re more able to give support to your family.
To find people who could be in your support network, ask yourself:
- Who can I share the joys of my parenting with?
- Who can I go to when I need support to manage everyday tasks?
- Who can I trust to seek advice from?
- Who can I go to when I am exhausted, sad, or not coping?
- Who can I trust to look after my child?