Parental Emotional Health

Parental Wellbeing

Looking after your own mental health and wellbeing is an important part of being a parent or carer. Parenting is a full time job - as well as the rewards, it can be tiring and stressful. If you feel low or stressed - it can feel even harder.

You may worry that you will be judged, or people will think you are not able to be a good parent because you are finding things hard. Lots of parents struggle at times with their mental health and are still very good parents.

Even very young children are tuned in to how their parents are feeling and will worry about you. They may not be able to explain this. They might instead start ‘acting out’ or seem sad and clingy. The whole family benefits when parents take care of themselves.

Dive Deeper

Feeling Low Or Depressed

Everyone has times when they feel down. It might be because of challenges you are facing in your life, or you might not know why you are feeling low. It is normal to sometimes feel like this.

When you feel ‘low’ you may feel; sad, anxious, worried, frustrated or angry. You might feel better if;

  • You keep busy and see supportive friends and family.
  • You eat well and get enough rest.
  • You get out in the fresh air – a brisk walk can help release ‘feel good hormones’. Take your children along; it will help everyone’s mood.
  • Find time for yourself – it doesn’t have to be for long. Relaxation techniques can help, or even a bath, or watching something you have chosen on the TV.

Usually ‘feeling low’ will pass after a few days. You should have more time when you feel fine than when you don’t.

When Should I Get More Help?

You might need more help if;

  • The feelings last longer than a couple of weeks and you begin to feel that you have lost interest in things you used to enjoy.
  • Your eating and sleeping patterns have changed.
  • You don’t want to be with your family and friends and/or they are worried about you.

This could mean you are becoming depressed. It is important you tell someone and get professional help. See your GP to talk about this and / or get in touch with Norfolk Wellbeing Services

If you do not feel ‘safe’ and think you might hurt yourself, you should ask for an emergency GP appointment or go to A&E.

Feeling Worried Or Anxious

It is natural to feel worried at times. You might have something particular you are worrying about, or you might not know what is causing the anxious feelings. Either way it can feel overwhelming and be difficult to cope with.

It can help to:

  • Talk to friends and family about how you are feeling.
  • Try a mindfulness technique to calm down worried thoughts and help with physical symptoms of anxiety; like a fast heart beat and feeling sick.

When Should I Get More Help?

You might need more help if:

  • The feelings carry on for more than a couple of weeks.
  • You feel restless, scared and like something bad will happen to others, or to you.

If you experience any of the following, it is important to seek help. Support will make life easier for you. 

  • Panic attacks that make it hard to carry on with your day.
  • You have begun to avoid situations that make you feel anxious.
  • You have begun to feel you must do things in a certain way - like cleaning or handwashing to keep safe.

If you are struggling like this please talk to a professional about it. See your GP to talk about this and/or get in touch with Norfolk Wellbeing Services

Feeling Lonely

Parenting can sometimes feel lonely. You might not have close family or friends nearby. You might not know other parents with children locally.

You might live alone with your children, but people can also feel lonely even when they are in a relationship. You might have struggled to make friends before you had children, or you may have lost your confidence a bit since they were born.

It is good for our mental wellbeing to have other grown ups to talk to and to share the highs and lows of life with.

Spending Time With Others

You might have lost touch with old friends and family whilst you have been busy with your family and feel embarrassed to get back in touch. It is always worth trying to reconnect. Send a text or a card, explain that you miss them and see if they want to catch up. You have nothing to lose! You may have moved to a new area and feel ready to meet new people.

You might find other parents in a similar situation at nursery or school, or even at the local park. Just smiling and saying hello to begin with can start off a connection. Be aware of your body language, it can be easy to give off ‘don’t talk to me‘ signals if you are feeling a bit nervous. Take a few slow deep breaths to help you feel ready to meet people.

  • Smile and make eye contact.
  • Speak clearly and confidently.
  • Try and concentrate on what the person says ask a question to show you are listening. ‘I live near there too – have you been there long?’

You can find local parents keen to meet others by:

If you have the time volunteering, starting a course or finding work can be a good way of meeting new people too.

Who can Help?

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you are 11-19 you can text ChatHealth on 07480 635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.

Living Well with Baby Webinar - Workshops for parents and carers with a baby, where the stresses of the parenting role is impacting on their wellbeing.

To speak to other Norfolk parents and carers, you can join our online community forum below.

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