Jul 19, 2019

The Challenges of Living with Parent with Mental Illness

Mental illness encompasses a vast number of diseases that affect the normal functionality of the brain and disrupts the social interactions between the patient and their peers, families and even work mates. These are the emotional and physiological problems that affect behaviour and feeling. Being a parent and suffering from a mental illness, may in extreme cases, bring instability in the family setup. In cases where the parent does not seek medical attention to effectively deal with their conditions, there is usually a risk of family breakups due to a lack of connection between the parent and their children and even spouses. It becomes difficult to explain to the children on what is happening to their parents.

Mental illnesses may be short term or long term depending on the type of the disorder. Illnesses like depression, anxiety, antenatal and postnatal depression may be brought about by the stress of life at that specific time and these are short term disorders. People suffering from chronic depression, bipolar and schizophrenia experience long term mental illnesses.

How does Parental Mental Health Affect Child Development?

Parenting with a mental illness can be an uphill task. Performing day to day activities including house chores, shopping and even cooking can be impaired by a mental disorder. Your parenting abilities may be questioned by people who do not understand the difficulty of your situation as parental mental health and child development go hand in hand. They may pass judgment and assumption based solely on your state of mind and strongly believe that you are incapable of taking care of your family because of your state. They may give you offensive and hurtful words and dismiss you when you try to defend yourself.

This may sometimes lead to parents inflicting harm upon themselves due to the hurtful and painful experiences they may be facing from the community. Self-harm can be used as a therapeutic action to release all the hate and judgment. Their children may be affected psychologically unable to understand their parent’s actions. Often, parents with mental illness may feel the pressure and have a hard time managing their parenting roles because of these factors.
Children whose parents suffer from mental disorders may face prejudice and stigmatization and in extreme cases may be bullied and teased leading to trauma. They may have a broken childhood most of their lives, having to raise themselves. This makes them feel betrayed.

The community may deem people with mental illnesses as dangerous and a potential criminal. The unpredictability of their behaviours may drive them to believe that the people suffering from mental illnesses are violent with a high probability to commit a crime. This is ideally incorrect. The percentage of people living with mental illnesses and are criminals who have committed a violent act is extremely small.

For parents with mental health issues, poverty is usually a big problem because of their inability to work caused by their state of mind. In cases where this happens, the drastic effects of this situation may be reflected in the children’s psychological problems.

Research has shown that children from parents suffering from mental illnesses are more likely to inherit the gene and suffer from these disorders later on in future.

How to Handle Mental Illnesses as a Parent

Mental health problems can make dealing with day to day activities feel hard. With the right support system and with ample time to adjust and get better, they may just be able to overcome these diseases and lead a normal life.

If you feel that you cannot perform the tasks at home, you can simply ask your children to help more around the house to ease the burden. You should never back out from asking for help in times where you need it. If a certain situation makes you feel uncomfortable and may bring about conditions like psychosis and anxiety, it is advised to walk away and completely avoid these triggers.

You have to realize that no parent is perfect and that mistakes will be made but that is what parenthood is about. All parents have a difficult time sometimes. With mental illness you can easily blame yourself for all the failures and obstacles experienced in your family.

Try to look for outlets and avenues to handle stress to avoid cases of breakdowns. Activities that can be done include, gardening, hiking, picking up a new hobby like archery, pottery, working out, baking and to some extent even yoga and meditation. You may look for the peer support programs where you will relate well with people who experience similar problems as you. You will be able to get encouragement and love from them.

Preoccupy your mind with positive thoughts and always be busy. Distractions could be triggers to ancient and psychosis


Remember, it’s okay if you are one of those facing a mental health concern and you suffer from a mental disorder, do not let anyone question your potential and ability to raise your children correctly even with your state of mind.

It is important to visit specialist that will offer the necessary guidance and treatment solutions for your disorder. Specialists include psychiatrists, therapists, psychologists, rehabilitation and community health centres.

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