Caring for a Parent who is suffering from a Mental Illness

Having a stable home environment is very important in helping children and young people grow up to be happy adults. This involves having an adult who can support, care and provide for children and young people in their care. Sometimes the parent or guardian of a child or young person suffers from a mental illness which can affect the way they are able to help their child develop in this way, which can be very difficult for that child or young person.

What is a Mental Illness?

Just like when people’s bodies get ill, sometimes people get an illness which affects their minds. When someone has a healthy mind they feel happy and can do things easily such as go to work, do the shopping and care for their loved ones. People who suffer from a mental illness often find these things difficult which can be very hard for the people that care about them. A mental illness can make the person:

  • Unwilling or unable to work
  • Distant or uncaring
  • Do things that seem strange to other people
  • Act aggressively
  • Be very sad

A lot of the time a person’s illness will only last a short time and they will go to see a doctor by themselves who can help them. But sometimes their illness will last a long time and they may be unwilling to see a doctor which can be very difficult for the children in their care.

What can I do?

If you are worried about someone you care about such as a parent or relative it is very important that you speak to someone. If there is another adult in the house you should talk to them about how you are feeling and let them know that you are worried about someone you care about. If there is no-one else in the house, or you do not feel comfortable speaking to them, you should speak to a teacher at school as they will know who you should speak to about getting help and you will be able to get some more information. The most important thing is to speak to someone and not bottle your feelings up; there is plenty of help and support available to you, you just have to ask!

What will happen next?

You may be very worried about talking to someone but it is very important that you do. The only way for the person you care about to get better is for them to get help from someone who knows about mental illnesses. Your local doctor will be in charge of helping a parent or guardian to get better as well as helping you find someone who can help at home. If your parent or guardian is finding it difficult to do things around the house you will be able to get help with this as well as any other things you are having trouble with.

Don’t Worry

It is very unlikely that your parent or guardian will be taken away so don’t let this stop you getting help. If you have any questions at any time you will be able to ask a doctor or a nurse who will explain things to you and help you understand what is going on. While this can be a very difficult time, it is important to remember that there is plenty of support out there for you and your family so you do not have to try and deal with everything yourself.