Welcome to Rafan House’s June newsletter!
In this newsletter, look out for:
– a short article: Helping to lift them up – Supporting parents of children (of whatever age) with mental health issues
– a link to our recently-published book, The Cambridge Code – One simple test to uncover who you are.
– And finally – it’s nearly the holidays! – ish.
Helping to lift them up
Mental health is a family affair but how do we support the parents of children with mental health issues?
Summer holidays are coming up and whether a child is one or forty-one, the parent-child dynamic is always worth looking after. When the child, or the grown-up child’s child, is having mental health issues, parents – or grandparents – often feel left alone to cope, without the information they need to provide the right kind of support and to deal with crises. Parents often worry they aggravate the situation through their own anxiety. As one parent noted, “We made our daughter’s condition MUCH worse by doing the wrong thing, and no one told us”. Yet parents are likely to be a big part of the solution as far as successful outcomes for young people are concerned. Research shows that they play a key role in supporting their children through both crisis and recovery.
The parents of adolescents receiving help for mental health issues feel the most unsupported of all groups of parents, and those who have teenagers with mental health problems seem to be particularly isolated. One study showed that 41% of parents felt excluded by the agencies involved in helping their young people.* Of course it might be worth noting that some unwittingly self-exclude for many different reasons.
Mental wellbeing is a family affair – it affects everyone in the family, even though only one person might be being treated. Some mental health issues can be intergenerational, as patterns of behaviour are learned very young. These patterns may be difficult to spot without an objective distance, but if we can gain that insight, we can acquire the tools to help. We all know the airplane emergency drill – put your own oxygen mask on first and then you are able to help others – but somehow in the worry and concern for the wellbeing of our children, we can forget to be more insightful about ourselves first.
What shape might that take? It might be talking with a good friend, someone who can listen without judging. More than that, it could be finding someone who can be trusted to challenge parents’ unconscious patterns of behaviour, for example a psychotherapist. When there are complex feelings to examine, a short but focussed conversation with a specialist in parenting children and young adults with mental health issues might make all the difference. This can help us to understand our own role in the recovery, how to help ourselves and how to support others within the family.
The most important thing is not to feel abandoned as parents, to use the time that our children are being cared for to look after ourselves and find the help we need so that we too can find the strength to do the heavy lifting. Nobody ought to have to do it alone.
*Data from AYPH Survey, “There for you”: The role of parents in supporting young people with mental health problems, November 2016
It’s the holidays – hurray! -ish
Wonderful for the kids, tumbling out of school with the prospect of golden days of nothingness ahead. Sometimes for parents, though, holidays can be a bit of a challenge, where the nothingness has to be monitored (idle hands and all that), the ground rules go to pot and the disputes start as to who does what and when, and with whom. Historically, and ironically, holiday times can be the last straw for many couples and families struggling to maintain an even keel, and homes become battlegrounds. In times like those, cracks can look like crevasses. In times like that it helps to have a focused conversation with people who know about conflict resolution, and can help navigate to a calmer space.
We are now offering psychotherapeutic consultations online – and they are proving to be very accessible and effective, especially for families. We are also holding workshops online for corporates, schools and other organisations, helping people negotiate a very different set of challenges.
If we can help, do call us on 0203 542 9935, or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find more information about us at www.rafanhouse.com. We’re here to help.
Dr Emma Loveridge
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