Your child’s relationship with people around them (most importantly with you and other family members) directly affects their day-to-day wellbeing.
When these relationships and strong and supportive, it builds their resilience to the stress caused by life’s challenges.
Spending time and having fun as a family (and individually with your child) are simple ways to strengthen your relationship and powerful ways to build their resilience. It’s the simple things that can make a difference, like reading stories, having meals together, chatting in the car or taking a family walk or outing somewhere.
Balancing family time
When you’re a parent, you often devote most of your time looking after your family and their needs, without stopping to consider your own. Finding a healthy balance is important.
You may love spending time with your family, but there are great benefits physically and mentally to making some time for yourself as well, particularly when you experience mental illness. When you take time to do this you can restore your energy and keep connected with who you are as an individual. It can make it easier to deal with stress and illness, and to recognise your own needs.
In the same way, there are also benefits for your child in taking a break from family life. It’s good to organise for them to spend time with others outside the home too, whether it’s with a grandparent, aunty or uncle, other relatives or friends. It could be for a few hours, or even longer.
Peer or carer groups can help
Many children of parents who experience mental illness have expressed how helpful being involved with peer or carer groups has been. Both peer support and carer groups are set up to provide the opportunity for people to share their experiences, support each other and take time out from the home situation.
For details of peer support groups for children and young people across Australia, call the Commonwealth Carelink and Respite Centre (a free call on 1800 052 222) or talk to a local health professional or support person about help for young carers.
More information about helping your family: