In 2015, my daughter was being bullied and it had a deep impact on her mental health. Before long, she couldn’t sleep, wasn’t eating and leaving the house was a challenge. When I was told by our doctor that she had a plan to end her life imminently, our whole world was thrown into darkness and chaos. Everything we thought we knew about parenting and life was challenged. We had no frame of reference or framework to make sense of this. And worst of all, no one got it. No one spoke about it. We were completely alone.
I spent many hours watching my daughter, to ensure she remained safe. And it was in this quiet time, that I pondered the unanswerable questions about why this had happened, what we’d messed up and how we could have let it happen.
Over time, as I tired myself out with overthinking and cried myself dry, I began to question why we were there at all. And if we were sitting trying to keep our daughter alive, surely we couldn’t be the only parents in that situation.
I’d contacted a charity for support and got nothing back, and this, combined with the wall of silence and shame that mental illness put up between me and my friends, family and wider society galvanised something in me – and I knew that I had to do something, if only to connect the other parents going through the same uncertain and life changing experience.
As we grasped the new rules of mental illness and adapted our behaviour to better support our daughter – what I call Partnering not Parenting – I realised that rather than being a hindrance, potential aggravator or instigator of mental ill health, we parents were a potential solution. And the best part – we were at home with the child 24/7 and knew them well. We were invested in their recovery, and we were free!
And so I decided to find these other parents and bring them together in a safe, non judgmental space, where they could explore their experience and share, learn and connect with other parents in similar situations.
In September 2016, I clicked Create and started a Facebook group. Since then, it’s grown into a safe, warm, understanding and compassionate space and is part of the every day of many of our members – from the daily gratitude to kickstart the morning to our peer led chats and expert Live trainings.
Whether your child has social anxiety, depression, an eating disorder or psychosis, there’s a place for you. We understand the challenges you’re facing and we are here to stand beside you and support you through.
Before I found Suzanne Alderson and her Parenting Mental Health Group (PMH), I felt alone and hopeless due to my teen son’s struggle and suffering with depression and anxiety. I’ve been a member of this group for almost a year and it has really felt as though I was thrown a lifeline when I joined. The gratitude I feel for having found Suzanne and PMH is immeasurable. C.S
We now run events, training, Listening Circles and Mentorship for over 20,000 parents around the world.
In 2020, I formalised the structure of the community further with confirmation of our charitable status.
For more information about Parenting Mental Health, visit www.parentingmentalhealth.com or visit the Facebook page here.
To join the Facebook community, please click here – and please answer all the questions so we can let you in. We have to maintain the safety of the space.