Call To Action: We Need To Prioritise Parental Mental Health

Call To Action: We Need To Prioritise Parental Mental Health

Introduction:

As a mother of two young children, I’m no stranger to the mental challenges that come with raising two young humans. I’m usually pushed to my limit and have to call on all physical and cognitive resources to get through the challenging days. Parenting is my most rewarding role, but it is also hands down the most difficult one. I struggle sometimes, and I am not afraid to share that because everyone does and will at some point. Being a good parent isn’t about perfection – it is about modelling the whole gamut of emotions and challenges and showing our young ones that you don’t need to be perfect to be good. That is why I appreciate that influencers such as Anna Whitehouse, founder of Mother Pukka, are publicly sharing their struggles with postnatal depression and postpartum psychosis and hopefully, as more of us talk about our challenges, we can change the narrative and normalise our individual experiences. As we observe Parental Mental Health Day, it’s crucial to spotlight the challenges we all face as parents and the need to prioritise our well-being whilst emphasising the importance of mental health in parenthood. 

I will be hosting an Instagram Live session on Thursday, 25th January 2025, ahead of Parental Mental Health Day, and you’re invited! Let’s come together to explore the importance of mental well-being in parenthood.

Here are Seven essential things to know about parental mental health awareness to kick off the conversations:

1. It’s okay to Seek help

We parents often find ourselves juggling numerous responsibilities both within the home and at work, and this constant juggling act and pressure can take a toll on our mental health. We tend to prioritise everyone else, leaving nothing in the tank to care for ourselves. Asking for help is a courageous and vital step in refuelling our resources when we are running on empty. It shows self-awareness, humility, and a willingness to learn and overcome challenges. Recognising when you need assistance and reaching out for support is a sign of strength. So, don’t hesitate to seek help when required – it is a positive and courageous choice. Therapists, coaches, support groups, and counselling services are valuable resources that can provide assistance and understanding.

When I reached my limit a few years ago and felt out of control, I accessed the services of a life coach. The support offered by my coach was an essential step in helping me regain perspective and the realisation that I had more control over my schedule and choices than I was telling myself I had.

2. Normalise the Conversation

Breaking the stigma surrounding mental health is vital for parents to feel comfortable discussing their struggles openly. Creating a supportive environment and normalising conversations around mental health helps parents recognise that they are not alone in facing challenges. By encouraging open dialogue, we contribute to a culture of empathy and understanding. It is essential to be kind to ourselves and those around us so they can feel it’s okay to share their true feelings. If you are a leader in your business, then take the initiative to address mental health openly, creating a space for employees to share their experiences, reinforcing the idea that discussing mental health is not only accepted but encouraged. This normalization helps reduce stigma, fosters empathy, and establishes a culture of support within the workplace. I openly share my struggles but more importantly I share how I manage and nurture a healthy mindset and mental well-being.

3. Parental Mental Health Impacts Children

Children are wise beings and very intuitive to parental well-being. My children can sense my mood, which I know significantly influences their mood. I have learnt over the years that my emotional state impacts my family dynamics and the overall atmosphere at home, so I prioritise my well-being, knowing that I am helping the entire family with theirs and teaching them to prioritise their self-care. I tell my children when I need a moment to regroup, and they have learnt to tell me the same when they feel overwhelmed so I can help them to regain much-needed perspective. 

4. Self-Care is Crucial

Parental responsibilities often leave little time for self-care, but it’s essential for maintaining mental health. Various studies show that taking moments for self-reflection, engaging in activities that bring joy, exercising, and ensuring adequate rest are all part of a holistic approach to self-care. Over the years, I’ve realised that a successful day is not crammed full of activities and productivity hacks but one when I have time set aside for exercise, reflection, and simply being. I guide this time with my life because I am better equipped to handle the challenges of parenting, leading my team, and growing my business when I make the time to care for myself.

5. Community Support Matters

Building a solid support system within the community is invaluable for parents facing mental health challenges. When my children were much younger, I relied heavily on my friend network, local parenting groups, online forums, or connections with friends and family; knowing that support is available, fosters resilience. Creating a network where parents can share experiences and advice contributes to a sense of solidarity and understanding. You are not alone in your struggles no matter how unique they might feel to you. 

6. Parenting is not a gendered role 

Parenting is not inherently tied to any specific gender role. Both men and women can be loving, nurturing, and effective parents. The idea that particular parenting responsibilities or qualities are exclusive to one gender is an outdated and limiting stereotype.

Modern perspectives on parenting emphasize shared responsibilities, where both parents contribute to their children’s emotional, physical, and intellectual well-being. Gender-neutral parenting recognises that individuals bring unique strengths and qualities to the parenting role, regardless of gender identity. It can be a great way to share the burden and challenges so we don’t get to breaking point. 

In our homes and workplaces, it is ever more critical that we foster an environment where both parents where possible can actively participate in parenting duties, allowing each individual to contribute their strengths and skills to create a balanced and supportive family dynamic. I’m glad to say that in our home, my husband and I share the caregiving 50/50 as we do financial contributions as well. We didn’t start off like this, but we gradually realised that we both thrived better and had a more meaningful and respectful relationship when we ran our home the way that worked for us, not by some outdated principles based on our parents’ marriages. Each relationship and partnership needs to create its rule book if you want to support each other’s mental health. 

7. Normalise scheduling regular mental health days 

A mental health day is a day taken off from work or daily responsibilities to focus on one’s cognitive and emotional well-being. Individuals take proactive steps to prioritise their mental health, reduce stress, and prevent burnout. Mental health days are not just about addressing existing mental health issues; they can also be a preventive measure to maintain overall well-being. I regularly have days when I do very little. I go for hikes and long walks or simply spend time in nature with friends and on my own. These days are my favourites because I come back from them motivated, refuelled and inspired to keep creating and living my best life.

From experience, most people are not faking being sick. They are usually faking being strong and well! So let’s create the psychological safety that will nurture real well-being not fake ones.

Join me on the Instagram Live @forwardladies session on the 25th January to engage in open conversations about parental mental health, and work towards creating a supportive community for all parents. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Let’s prioritise our well-being for ourselves, our families, and the broader parenting community.

We want to hear from you! Share your thoughts and experiences on how you prioritise your mental health as a parent.


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