It’s Okay Not To Be Okay: Why carer-parents don’t seek support for their own wellbeing

There is not much said in the mainstream media about the challenges faced by carer-families during this time. We have heard about the increasing rates of partner violence as people spend more time confined to their homes. But we don’t hear about the challenges for parents, who can no longer access services and supports, that provide a much-needed break from the carer role.

I guess it’s just not sexy enough to be talking about.

Of course there may also beĀ another reason. And that is that carer-parents aren’t openly telling the world that they are not okay. In a recent survey I did (right before Covid-19 took over our thinking), 50% of carer-parents reported that they were concerned about their own mental health. Yet less than 7% said they had ever sought help for themselves.

Research out of the University of Wisconsin, tells us carer-parents have stress levels that can be equivalent to that of combat veterans. Yet it is seen as a group who just need to get on and do what they need to do. Parents want to be seen as ‘warriors’. They feel like they need to hold a certain level of “I’ve got this” so service providers take them seriously. But this facade has a price. Carer-parents are so busy holding up this image, that they are neglecting to ask for help.

If you are a carer-parent, how strong is your mask? Do you have someone to support you when you need to take it off? Reach out to a friend, a peer or a counsellor and tell them you are not okay. Brene Brown talks about sharing your story with someone who has earned the right to hear it. You don’t have to vent to everyone (or on Facebook!), but find someone who has been there for you – whether they are a friend or a professional.

If you work with carer-parents, try and be that person. Earn the right to be the one they will share their story with. Be reliable, non-judgemental and kind.

And most importantly, be ready.