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Breaking the stigma of parents asking for help

As parents, we can be quick to blame ourselves for things going on with our children. We feel ashamed to ask for help. We often ignore the impact it has on our own mental health. Our family support worker explains why parents should feel no shame in reaching out.


reaching out as a parent

parent in hallway looking down forlorn

Reaching out

Life is complicated and difficult for young people. Each year, our Good Childhood Report shows how much they have going on in their lives. So, it is no wonder parents are struggling.  

There is a lot of parental guilt around. Parents carry the burden for things going on, particularly with children and young people who are living with them.  

My advice to families would be not to be afraid to reach out.

reaching out as parents

Intervention is not a shameful thing. Not something you will be judged for. 

We try to take away the stigma they may feel when accessing services. As a society, we need to be more open to support and not feel that we have failed as parents. 

caring for the carer

Caring for the carer

Parents are in such a tricky situation because, when they’re helping support the young person, their own lives become stuck. There is no movement. There are many families out there that would really benefit from a little bit of support. 

I was working with a family. The young person had multiple issues. He wouldn’t go to school and had problems with the police and the criminal justice system.

The level of risk in his life was so high, his mum had to stay at home with him all day. She couldn’t work. Her life revolved around what he was doing or not doing.

mother looking up out of window

mother reaching out

There were so many professionals around the young person, trying to help him. But she was on the periphery. She was coordinating the care but not getting the care she needed.  

She was relieved when I came to work with the whole family. It gave her an opportunity to talk about what was going on. She was very isolated. She just needed to talk to somebody.

father and son at bus stop

Life makes me happy

Life makes me happy

When his son took two overdoses in a week, Sam knew he needed help. He reached out to our family support services and has never looked back since. Together, they are on the road to recovery.

Focusing on family

Like a lot of things in society, we bury our heads, or we focus too much on individual behaviors. I used to work in drug and alcohol services. There was an expectation by parents that if a young person gave up smoking weed, that would be the end of the problem. They would see a professional and they would be ‘fixed’.  

But that’s not the case. It’s a process. It’s more complicated.  

We should be looking at things in a more holistic manner, as a family. That’s what we do. No judgement. And any parent thinking about reaching out, we would encourage you to do so. 

daniel and sam

This blog was written by the project worker who supported Daniel and Sam. He works with families, encouraging them to get together and take part in healthy activities. It could be sports, walking, or in the case of Daniel and Sam, something like yoga or martial arts. 

It has helped Daniel find focus and move away from substance use. Both him and his dad are hopeful for the future.

Author: Edward Herbert

boy in black t-shirt looking at camera

Campaign for mental health support

Young people need more mental health support.

They need places they can go and talk about their mental health. No referrals. No waiting lists.

That's why we're calling on the Government to fund a network of early support hubs across England. So anyone aged 11-25 can go talk to a professional before it reaches crisis point.