NURTURE INFORMATION HUB
Mental health illness can affect anyone regardless of gender, age, health and income. Mental illness includes conditions like anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, schizophrenia and antenatal and postnatal depression.
Parenting is both a rewarding and overwhelming job for anyone but it adds extra challenges for people with a mental health condition. When a parent has a mental health problem it does not automatically mean that a child will be affected negatively in any way or experience abuse. It will all depend on how the mental illness affects the parent’s behaviour and the extent to which the parents’ symptoms interfere with positive parenting such as their ability to show interest in their child will determine the risk.
Mental illness can affect school age children in various ways. One outcome for children is the fact that they have to take on caring responsibilities which conflict with attending school and age appropriate activities. Another is that is can affect their communication, academic achievements and social skills.
Some parents experience mental illness for only a short time, e.g. experiencing postnatal depression in the weeks of months after having a baby. For other parents it can be a lifelong experience and they need lifelong treatment to manage their illness.