Mental Health Support for Parents and Carers During Coronavirus

Currently we’re living in a difficult and stressful period and you may feel anxious about the wellbeing of your children, older relatives and other loved ones. Rightful concerns about food, finances, and being isolated may leave you feeling afraid or unsure what to do. The following organisations and resources are all here for you to use to safeguard your wellbeing.

Time Out
If you are caring for anyone at home (including supervising home schooling) there will be lots of demands on your time.  You may want to schedule a ‘do not disturb’ session every day where you do something simple but positive for you (a cup of tea while looking at the birds in the garden, a warm bath, reading a book or watching a TV show). In that time you can also reflect on your mental health, note if you need to do anything for your own care, and read up on some of the materials listed here. It may suit you to have a set time, a time that shifts each day, or several ‘me times for mental health’ throughout your day.

Take whatever mental health support you can
None of us should be expected to cope with new, changing and scary situations alone. Nor to assume our mental health doesn’t need nurturing – especially if we already have underlying mental health conditions. Reach out to these folk who are here for you:

The Blurt Foundation will email you regular updates to boost your mood.

Action for Happiness encourage you to find ways to stay positive and resilient.

Mind provides information on mental distress plus ideas for self care.

Samaritans are there to listen if you are feeling overwhelmed.

Citizens Advice offers practical information about all aspects of your life.

The NHS have a range of apps you can use to promote your own wellbeing. Plus check the NHS information on Coronavirus for reliable health information (be cautious about all the scary stuff you see shared on social media).

This guide from Harvard University explains how to manage fears about the Coronavirus. Plus this advice from the Mental Health Foundation details how to protect your mental health right now; as does this resource from Mind. And GrowEatGift has tips on staying sane if you’re stuck at home.

Parenting Advice
We’re under huge pressure to be perfect parents. But now, more than ever, is the time to be a ‘just good enough’ parent. A ‘doing the best that I can’ parent. You’ll be facing situations that are new to you and because of that they will be uncertain, frustrating, and subject to change. You can expect to make mistakes, to feel exhausted, and to wonder if others are doing better than you. Thinking positively you can also expect to learn, grow, find out things about yourself and your child, and to try new things. If you want advice on coping as a parent the organisations below can help you.

Family Lives have fact sheets and a helpline to assist with all areas of parenting.

Home Start provide parenting tips and mentoring.

CBeebies Grownups has lots of practical advice.

The NSPCC has tips on child safety and wellbeing plus ideas on how to communicate with your child.

Pooky Knightsmith is a therapist who offers mental wellbeing tips for all the family.

There’s a saying you may have heard on coping during a crisis. It’s ‘fit your own life jacket first’. You are not going to be able to support your children if you are exhausted yourself. Aside from your ‘time out time’ described above you might want to:
– set up a WhatsApp or Facebook group for friends to share positive messages.
– identify key media that make you happy and zone out the negative.
– make a list of things you can enjoy doing at home (reading, binge watching series, cooking).
– set aside a time each day to do something you and the children enjoy together (a game, colouring, baking).
– use a diary to record your moods, noting if you are struggling but equally looking for the positives even if they are very small.
– avoid getting drawn into social media dramas or competitive posting. Yes, there are going to be parents sharing their amazing activities and wonderful experiences while stuck at home. And that’s great if it’s you. Most of us are going to do just fine, in a very average way. And that is okay too.

During any stressful time there may be additional problems arising in your life; or existing difficulties may remain. You can find help for any number of situations via here.

This isn’t a competition or a race. It’s going to be an indefinite period of uncertainty and our aim is to get through it as best we can. Look after yourself. We can do this!

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