If you are a parent living with a mental illness, you are not alone. The National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing showed 3.4 million or 17% of Australians aged 16–85 years had accessed a health professional due to mental health concerns during 2020–21.
As parents and carers of children with disability we are particularly at risk of burnout – a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. If you find yourself constantly feeling overwhelmed, stretched to the limit and in constant fight or flight mode, please take a look at the warning signs below.
Signs of burnout include –
• Feeling ineffective in all your roles
• Tired all the time
• Always feeling like you’re in a bad mood
Ignoring the signs of burnout could cause further harm to your physical and mental health in the future.
So, if you are heading to burn out city, what can you do?
Firstly, see your GP. Request a mental health plan and discuss options best suited to your circumstances.
Next, find support and resources that will build your skills and capacity to manage stress and future triggers. We’ve gathered information on some national programs that can help you immediately.
Best suited for: parents and carers of children between 0 – 8 with disability or a developmental concern; includes a dedicated First People’s program
ENVISAGE Families initiative is a FREE peer support program that empowers, supports, and connects Australian parents and anyone in a caregiving role raising children aged 0-8 years with disability or developmental concerns.
The free program can be undertaken through five face-to-face or online interactive workshops and discussions. The workshops cover important areas such as health and well-being in early child development; child, sibling, and family development; parenting values and child-caregiver relationships; self-care and wellbeing for caregivers; and techniques for communicating, collaborating and connecting.
ENVISAGE workshops are facilitated by a clinician or early child development professional with experience working with families with children with disability or developmental concerns AND a caregiver with lived experience who is trained in providing peer support. envisage.community
Please note this program is funded until June 2025
HEALTHY MOTHERS, HEALTHY FAMILIES
Best suited for: mothers and female carers of children with disability
Healthy Mothers Healthy Families is a health education and empowerment program for mothers of children with disability. The mission of the program is to support, empower and encourage mothers of a child with disability to learn about, and create a healthy lifestyle that fosters their own health and well-being, alongside a healthy, happy family life. There are 10 modules to complete which can be self- paced or part of an online workshop. healthymothers-healthyfamilies.com
EMERGING MINDS FAMILIES
Best suited for: parents and carers of children with disability including professionals that work with families
Emerging Minds develops mental health policy, interventions, in-person and online training, programs and resources in response to the needs of professionals, children and their families. Resources include supports and information for parents experiencing mental illness to understand the importance of staying connected, talking to their children and maintaining routines. emergingminds.com.au/families
WORKING OUT DADS
Best suited for: fathers and male carers of children with disability
Working Out Dads is a FREE online group for dads raising young children with developmental delay or disability.
Dads come together once a week for a group discussion, plus a guided workout with a personal trainer!
The Working Out Dads is a research project by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and Tweddle Child & Family Health Service. The aim of the project is to gather data on whether fathers of children with additional needs or disability find Working Out Dads acceptable, and explore fathers’ satisfaction with the program.
Register here: redcap.mcri.edu.au
5 WAYS TO WELLBEING PROGRAM
Best suited for: all parents and carers
‘5 Ways to Wellbeing’ introduces you to five simple and effective ways to improve your psychological and emotional health that are based on extensive international research.
Register here: 5waystowellbeing.org.au
24/7 crisis support and suicide prevention service.
13 11 14 or Text on 0477 13 11 14 lifeline.org.au
24/7 counselling service for men. 1300 78 99 78
24/7 mental health support service 1300 22 46 36
Online support and counselling to young people aged 12 to 25.
1800 650 890 (9am to 1am daily) headspace.org.au
24/7 crisis support and suicide prevention services for children and young people aged 5 to 25. 1800 55 1800 kidshelpline.com.au
24/7 support for people impacted by sexual assault, domestic violence and abuse.
1800 737 732 1800respect.org.au
Suicide Call Back Service
24/7 crisis support and counselling service for people affected by suicide.
1300 659 467 suicidecallbackservice.org.au
LGBTIQ+ peer support and referral. 1800 184 527
(3pm to midnight daily)
Online chat 3pm to midnight daily qlife.org.au
24/7 crisis support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 13 92 76