As a parent or carer, when you look after yourself you are looking after your children too.
This is the message from Cornwall Council’s public health team ahead of Children’s Mental Health Week (February 7-13).
Now in its eighth year, the week is organised by children’s mental health charity Place2Be and aims to get schools and families involved in a range of activities. This year’s theme is ‘growing together’.
In its most recent report, the Children's Commissioner for England highlighted that around one in six children and young people aged 5-19 had a probable mental health disorder, and many more struggle with challenges from bullying to bereavement.
This has been exacerbated by the Covid pandemic with children as well as adults having to continually adapt to new ways of living and learning.
Parenting in this climate can be extra challenging which is why there is a wide selection of support specifically designed for parents and carers available in our Mental Health section.
This includes links to practical advice and innovative resources that are suitable for children and young people to explore and use themselves.
Lucy Walsh, Advanced Public Health Practitioner at the Council who specialises in mental health, said:
“While for some families the pandemic has brought positive opportunities, the constant disruption, anxiety and stress many adults and children have endured over the past two years cannot just be switched off. It's normal and entirely understandable if you're feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, frustrated or worried right now. What is important is to reach out for support.
“Learning to live with Covid may prove stressful, which is why adults need to prioritise self-care if they want their children to remain happy and healthy too. So please take a second to look though our dedicated web page full of support for you and your family from podcasts and helplines, factsheets and webchats, to local face to face services and national websites.”
Cllr Dr Andy Virr, Portfolio Holder for Adults and Public Health, said:
“We’ve all had moments when looking after our children is the most rewarding thing in the world, but we’ve all been completely drained too. It can be so demanding.
“Self-care is about finding ways to look after yourself. When you look after yourself and your own emotions you are looking after your children too.
“This is an important message, and we will be encouraging our colleagues in schools and education settings across the county to help spread the word to parents that there is support available, both during term time and in the school holidays.”
Things to try – from Place2Be:
- Do you eat healthy snacks and a proper meal? Try to eat well.
- How easily do you sleep? If you’re not getting enough sleep then see if you can change your routine before bed. Can you have a bath or a shower? Do you turn off your mobile?
- Are you getting enough time outdoors? It can be a big boost to mental and physical health.
- Grab chances to do something you enjoy – whether it’s your favourite food or a short phone call with a friend.
- Take opportunities to talk to people close to you about how you feel. Rant, grumble, cry – whatever you need. Choose family members or friends that make you feel valued and understood.
- Try to notice the good things around you and try to hold on to a sense of humour. Having a laugh at the crazy times in parenting is sometimes the only way to keep things in perspective!
- Hang out with people that encourage you. Try not to listen to the things that people say that make you feel bad or judged as a parent. Don’t let it be a competition!
- List the things that went well today (there will be something!) rather than the things that went badly.
- Learn to say ‘no’ and don’t feel guilty. Everyone has limits. It’s not helpful to anyone to overload yourself.
- It’s ok to say ‘yes’ when people offer to help you and allow yourself to be cared for sometimes - you can return the favour when they need it.
- If you notice that your mood is very low and you’re really struggling, reach out for help and talk to your GP.
For more information on Children’s Mental Health Week, and ideas to get involved, visit the Childrens Mental Health Week website.