What is your current role?
I am a consultant paediatric clinical psychologist, specialising in cardiac and respiratory patients, with a special interest in cystic fibrosis.
What do you most enjoy about your work?
I really enjoy all (well most) of it, but if I had to choose, it is my direct work with children and their families. It is always interesting. Each day is different, sometimes challenging but really rewarding.
Why is Parent Mental Health Day important?
It is Parent Mental Health Day on 27 January, and I think this day is a good opportunity to celebrate being a parent or carer. To help mark this special day, I would also like to offer you some tips to look after your own well-being.
If you look after yourselves, both emotionally and physically, it puts you in the best position to care for your children – a bit like the safety presentation on an aeroplane, we are told to make sure we attach oxygen masks to ourselves first, so that we are then able to help our children.
What tips do you have for parents or carers?
Here are my top five tips for improved parental wellbeing:
Seek additional support if you need it.
We know that this is very difficult time for many families. Please discuss with your children’s carers (school, health etc) or charities if you need help.
Look after yourself physically.
Take physical exercise outdoors. Make sure that you are getting any physical health care (including taking prescribed medications) you might need. Ensure that you are eating well and that you are getting enough good quality sleep.
Practice mindfulness to help manage stressful thoughts and feelings.
This can be done anywhere. There are several apps out there such as ‘Headspace’ or ‘Be Mindful’ as well as You Tube clips which can support you with these exercises and they can be done anywhere or whilst you are doing anything.
Don’t be too hard on yourself.
Everyone has difficult days, and it is ok to be ‘good enough’. Put this in the past and aim to try to make tomorrow better.
Nurture relationships with friends and family.
It is easy to let resentments build up when you are stressed. Try to communicate, let others know how you are feeling and find out how they are too.
Where can parents and carers go for additional help if they are worried about themselves?
If you have any concerns about your safety or wellbeing, please speak with your GP in the first instance or call 111 or visit an emergency department (A&E), if your concerns are urgent and develop outside of GP working hours.
Thank you to the children and young people who have so brilliantly illustrated our blog pages.