Submission: Mental health and parenting
Title: Parent Mental Health
Author: Parenting Research Centre
Our submission to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System says parents with poorer mental health are less likely to feel confident and effective in their role as parents. This is important because when parents feel confident it helps them engage and respond to their children. It also helps them build positive family relationships and can provide a buffer during stressful and challenging times.
Findings from our large study Parenting Today in Victoria show that parents with poorer mental health report less patience and consistency with their children, and higher rates of criticism, arguing and yelling at their children. They also report being less satisfied with the amount of time they can give to their children. Our submission highlights how services can meet needs, given these parents are less likely to seek family help. They also feel less supported by their partners.
Putting mental health and parenting on the community agenda
It says another way to support parents is to put parent mental health on the community agenda – formally and informally. At the community level this can mean embedding evidence-based information where parents go for information about their children’s wellbeing . These include websites, webinars, parenting groups, schools, child care and playgroups.
Our submission points out that children’s mental health and their academic and social functioning is affected when their parents experience high levels of psychological distress.
This makes it critical for parents to be aware that mental health and parenting are related, and that there are supports, services and information that can help.