What you can do if your parent has a mental health problem

Talk to your parent

Ask your parent what it is like for them. It may help your parents to know you‘re interested in how they’re feeling. This also creates space for you to tell your parents how you experience it. They may not realise what it’s like for you.

Inform yourself

Don’t be afraid to ask for information if you feel it would help. Look online for information about the diagnosis your parent has. However, make sure you are accessing reputable websites as there’s a lot of misleading ‘information’ about mental health on the internet. Try HSE’s yourmentalhealth.ie for starters.

It can help to talk to a mental health professional about your parent’s mental health. Ask your parent about this to see if you could attend an appointment or part of an appointment with them. Or see if they can set up a time for you to meet/talk to a member of the team by yourself.

Set boundaries

You may be able to offer some support to your parent if you feel in a position to do so. At the same time, remember you’re not responsible for your parent and you may need support too.

Talk to someone

As with anything challenging, opening up and talking to someone you trust can really help. This could be a friend, family member or a trusted adult. Talking about what’s going for you can help you feel supported and feel less isolated.

Look after yourself

Take a look at five a day for your mental health for some ways to look after yourself. Keep up your daily activities and routine as much as you can like school and seeing friends. Your school or college might also be able to offer support if you are having difficulties there.

Join a support group

Support groups for family members of people experiencing mental health problems can be really helpful. Look out for ones that are specially for children of those with mental health problems. This can be a chance for you to talk to and hear from other young people who have gone through similar experiences. Your parent’s doctor might be able to suggest one, or google it.

One-to-one support

If your parent attends a mental health service, there may also be a social worker who can offer you some support as a family member of someone experiencing mental health difficulties.

If there’s a Jigsaw service near you, get in touch about talking to a clinician there to help you manage your worries.

>>For further information, a group of young people in Mayo developed an online resource for other young people with parents who experience mental health difficulties