Nurturing Parental Mental Health: How Schools Can Make a Difference

Team TICS
October 4, 2023

The significance of parental mental health in a child's development cannot be overstated. As schools strive to provide the best learning environment for students, they must also acknowledge and support the well-being of parents (Goldberg et al., 2019). When parents are mentally healthy and resilient, they can better fulfil their roles as caregivers and educators. In this blog, we explore the critical connection between parental mental health and children's well-being and discuss how schools can play a pivotal role in supporting parents.

The Parent-Child Mental Health Nexus:

Parents are a child's first teachers and primary caregivers. Their mental health profoundly influences the home environment, which, in turn, has a direct impact on a child's emotional and psychological development (WHO, 2021). Here's how parental mental health can affect children:

Modelling Behaviour: Children often model their behaviour after their parents. Parents who prioritise mental health and self-care set a valuable example for their children, teaching them essential life skills for managing stress and emotional challenges.

Emotional Stability: Parents' emotional well-being affects their ability to provide a stable and nurturing environment for their children. Children are highly attuned to their parents' emotions and can be deeply affected by parental stress, anxiety, or depression.

Parent-Child Relationship: A parent's mental health can impact the quality of the parent-child relationship. Parents who are mentally healthy are better equipped to establish secure and positive attachments with their children, fostering their emotional development.

The Role of Schools in Supporting Parental Mental Health:

Schools can take proactive steps to support parental mental health, recognising that the well-being of parents contributes significantly to the success and happiness of their students (Maynard et al., 2019). Here's what schools can do:

Provide Resources: Schools can offer resources and information on mental health, stress management, and self-care to parents. TICS have associates who are very happy to support with this and appreciate that this can be a lot of work for schools who are already very stretched. We also have a ready made webinar that can be shown to parents, about mental health, in discussion groups or made available to them watch at home.

Family Engagement: Create opportunities for parents to engage with the school community. Encourage them to attend school events, parent-teacher conferences, and workshops that address mental health topics.

Parent Support Groups: Facilitate parent support groups or discussion forums where parents can connect with one another, share experiences, and seek guidance. These groups can serve as a source of emotional support and camaraderie (Leger et al., 2022).

Flexible Scheduling: Recognise that parents have diverse schedules and commitments. Offer flexible meeting times for school events and parent-teacher conferences to accommodate different needs.

Promote Open Dialogue: Create a culture of open and empathetic communication. Ensure that parents feel comfortable discussing their mental health concerns with school staff, teachers, and counselors.

Staff Training: Train teachers and staff to recognise signs of parental distress and equip them with strategies for responding with empathy and support. Staff should model self-care practices as well. Sometimes, having an external partner, such as a TICS associate in to support with this can help to introduce a fresh outlook.

Community Partnerships: Collaborate with local mental health organisations and community services to provide parents with access to professionals and resources. These partnerships can expand the range of support available (World Health Organization, 2021).

Mental Health Curriculum: Integrate mental health education into the school curriculum, teaching children about emotional well-being, resilience and the importance of seeking help when needed. This education can indirectly benefit parents as well.

Regular Check-Ins: Implement a system of regular check-ins or surveys to assess the mental health needs and concerns of parents. Use the feedback to tailor support services and resources accordingly (Gee et al., 2021).

Conclusion

The well-being of parents is intrinsically linked to the well-being of their children. Schools have a unique opportunity and responsibility to support parents in maintaining good mental health (García-Carrión et al., 2019). By providing resources, fostering engagement, and creating an open and compassionate school environment, schools contribute not only to the success of their students but also to the resilience and happiness of the entire family (Goldberg et al.,. Recognising the vital role of parents' mental health is a crucial step toward building a more supportive and thriving educational community.

If you need any help and support in supporting parents, in creating Trauma Informed environments, evaluating them or just a general chat about ‘all things Trauma Informed’, please get in touch with Lyndsay, our Working Together Lead at hello@ticservicesltd.com and our team will support you in your journey.

References

García-Carrión, R., Villarejo-Carballido, B., & Villardón-Gallego, L. (2019). Children and adolescents mental health: a systematic review of interaction-based interventions in schools and communities. Frontiers in psychology10, 918.

Gee, B., Wilson, J., Clarke, T., Farthing, S., Carroll, B., Jackson, C., ... & Notley, C. (2021). Delivering mental health support within schools and colleges–a thematic synthesis of barriers and facilitators to implementation of indicated psychological interventions for adolescents. Child and adolescent mental health26(1), 34-46.

Goldberg, J. M., Sklad, M., Elfrink, T. R., Schreurs, K. M., Bohlmeijer, E. T., & Clarke, A. M. (2019). Effectiveness of interventions adopting a whole school approach to enhancing social and emotional development: a meta-analysis. European Journal of psychology of Education34, 755-782.

Leger, L. S., Buijs, G., Mohammadi, N. K., & Lee, A. (2022). Health-Promoting Schools. Handbook of Settings-Based Health Promotion, 105.

Maynard, B. R., Farina, A., Dell, N. A., & Kelly, M. S. (2019). Effects of trauma‐informed approaches in schools: A systematic review. Campbell Systematic Reviews15 (1-2).

World Health Organization. (2021). Helping adolescents thrive toolkit: strategies to promote and protect adolescent mental health and reduce self-harm and other risk behaviours. Available from: https://iris.who.int/bitstream/handle/10665/341327/9789240025554-eng.pdf [Accessed: 27.09.2023].


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