Parent's mental illness: how to cope with it and other pressures
Being a parent with mental health problems is one of the most difficult to bear, and it can have a lasting impact on your family, your marriage, your children, and your children's future. How do you cope in this situation? Read on and find out.
A parent's mental illness is rarely ever talked about. In fact, mental illness in parents is also a significant factor in a child’s mental health, creating another generation of adults (and eventually, parents) with mental illness.
This isn’t to say that parents are to blame. A parent's mental illness is often ignored, seldom acknowledged, and rarely admitted.
Parents must take the time to take care of their mental health. In the same way, people should empathize with these parents and help them. Parents who already experience mental illnesses often blame themselves for their children’s mental health issues. They do not deserve the added burden of being pressured or judged unfairly because of it.
A parent's mental illness and coping
If you are a parent suffering from mental health problems, worrying about your children is normal. But do not blame yourself. You can still help your children and be a good parent with the right support and resources.
Being a parent is already challenging enough on a daily basis. Coping with mental illness every day on top of that makes parenting feel even more difficult.
A parent's mental illness can affect your daily life. For instance, anxiety disorders can make you worry more, and more easily. Depression saps your energy. Bipolar disorder can threaten the consistency of relationships with your family and friends.
Know that you're not alone. It helps when you find other parents who experience the same problems. You can get together and talk about how they cope, acknowledge mistakes, and share everyday triumphs. Take three parents, Nick, Darren, and Kate, who discuss how they cope in the video below.
A parent's mental illness and peer pressure
If you're a parent with mental illness, you don't just deal with the daily stresses of child-rearing and mental illness. You also worry about your mental health’s impact on your children’s mental health.
A parent's mental illness can cause behavior that can stress or alienate them. And it can become difficult to bridge that divide between you and your child once cracks begin to appear.
Another stressful factor in dealing with mental illness as a parent is dealing with other people's misconceptions of a mentally ill parent's situation. They may be wrong ideas about a parent' mental illness and their poor (and uncalled for) judgment of your worth as a parent and a human being.
If you are a parent with mental illness, you may be judged and you may feel your self-worth crash down. It may even affect your child as other kids’ perception of other parents also bleed into their own kids’ behavior. This can manifest into bullying.
Communicating as a path to recovery
It may feel as though you are alienating yourself from the whole family experience and even the community. You may feel a desperate need to fit in. But as long as you’re getting help and you’re focused about taking care of your children in the ways that matter, there’s no reason for you to worry about other people’s perception of you.
In this regard, it also helps to clear these misconceptions and reach out to other parents about your situation. Communicate with them and educate them on mental health.
You can put a human face to a phenomenon that other people can barely understand. Always remember, it is not your choice that you are this way. No parent would ever choose to be this way, especially when you have a family to take care of. People should understand this.
It’s normal to worry about other people’s perception of you, because you want to be a better parent. But when it comes to a parent's mental illness, you don’t have to fear asking for help.
It does not make you any less capable of a parent or a human being. It shows that you are willing to face your obstacles and find solutions to your problems.
You are not alone
You don't need to handle your mental health problems alone. You are in a family, so asking them for help is totally okay. Talk to them about your difficulties. Ask them to help you out with tasks at home, as long as they can.
A parent's mental illness isn't just one person's problem, it's a family's problem, too. And a family problem can only be solved by working together. This can serve to connect you with your family more and bring you closer together.
You don’t have to be a “perfect parent” because the truth is, nobody is. It’s so easy to blame ourselves and try to overcompensate. But putting too much pressure on yourself may only cause more harm than good. This is because giving yourself a hard time would also give your family a hard time as well.
Remember, you cannot take care of other people if you cannot take care of yourself.
You can seek help
If you, your partner, or your children are experiencing mental health issues, you can seek help in the following resources:
- Natasha Goulbourn Foundation (NGF) – (02) 804-HOPE (4673), 0917 558 HOPE (4673) or 2919 (toll-free for GLOBE and TM subscribers).
- Manila Lifeline Centre (MLC) – (02) 8969191 or 0917 854 9191.
- In Touch Community Services Crisis Lines – +632 893 7603, 0917 8001123 (Globe subscribers), 0922 8938944 (Sun subscribers). Email at [email protected].
- Comprehensive list of hotlines for different psychological and counseling centers, via Mental Health PH. Includes the above, plus DILG Emergency Number, Living Free Foundation, NCMH Helpline, UGAT Foundation and 700 Club Asia. Refer to linked image for full details.
Centers and Foundations
- PsychConsult Inc. – Located at Cubao, Quezon City. Contact numbers are +632 421 2469 / +632 357 6427 / +63917 808 0193.
- Philippine Psychiatric Association (PPA) – Located at Ortigas Center, Pasig City. Contact via (02) 635-9858.
- Philippine Mental Health Association (PMHA) – HQ located at Quezon City, with chapters at Bacolod-Negros Occidental, Baguio-Benguet, Cabanatuan-Nueva Ecija, Cagayan de Oro-Misamis Oriental, Cebu, Dagupan-Pangasinan, Davao, Dumaguete-Negros Oriental, and Lipa-Batangas. HQ contact numbers are +632-921-4958 and +632-921-4959.
- National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) – Located at Mandaluyong. Contact via (02) 531-9001 (connecting all departments).
- Jaime C. Bulatao, SJ Center for Psychology Services (Bulatao Center) – Located at Ateneo de Manila University. Click the link for a full list of their counseling, clinical, community and training services. Contact at (632) 426-6001.
- Ateneo Center for Family Ministries Foundation (CEFAM) – Affordable family and individual counseling via a psycho-spiritual approach. Located at Ateneo de Manila University. Contact them at 426-4289 up to 92.
- In Touch Community Services – Located at McKinley Rd, Makati City. Offers professional counseling (adults, children and families of Filipinos and expatriates), has subsidized counseling options. Offers psychological testing, as well. Contact at (02) 893 1893.
- Reintegration for Care and Wholeness Foundation, Inc. (RCW) – Located at Quezon City. Click the link for the full list of counseling services offered. Contact them at (02) 436 0710.
Individual Psychological Service Providers
Here is a comprehensive list of psychological service providers.
- National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) – Informational resources on mental illnesses as well as subgroups like LGBTQ and veterans.
- Drugrehab.com – Informational resources on co-occurring disorders, as well as seeking treatment.
- Helpful resources for those struggling with suicidal thoughts or feelings
BetterHelp – Speak with a licensed counselor online.
You can also find a more exhaustive list of mental health resources and facilities through this link. It contains a list of mental hospitals, psychiatric wards, alcohol and drug dependency rehabilitation centers, and counseling centers. It also has therapeutic facilities for the treatment and care of the mentally challenged, SPED schools, and conflict-management/skill-building coaching services.