A support line is available for parents and carers who may be struggling with their mental health.
The free phone line, which is ran by North East Counselling Services (NECS), was set up after recognising when parents were bringing their children to counselling sessions they were seeking for support too.
Thanks to funding from Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW), the line operates Monday to Friday between 10am and 2pm.
Manned by qualified counsellors, it is a place for support, advice and signposting.
Lynn Renwick, Operations Director at NECS, said: “Having a child in counselling can be an anxious time for parents, who can often feel like they’ve let their child down. 50% of adults with mental health problems have developed them by the age of 14 and the pandemic has had a significant impact on young people’s mental health.
“We expect there will be many parents out there who don’t know what to do and are seeking guidance.”
When children are dealing with mental health problems, the whole family can be affected. Parents might not want to access counselling sessions, but they may need that extra support. The helpline, which is being piloted until March 2024, is a safe space where people can talk and be signposted to appropriate services.
It is for anyone in a parent or guardian role and can be used at any point, including a child’s diagnosis.
NECS Children’s Counsellors Lead Manager Becky Williams found herself in a situation where she needed support.
“During the pandemic, my daughter developed a severe phobia of the wind and would sit under a blanket crying and shaking.
“I’ve been a counsellor for 12 years and still felt like I didn’t know how to help. I felt like I was doing everything wrong and admitting you’re struggling as a parent is so hard, it can make you feel like you’re a bad parent.
“It had an impact on my mental health and I needed someone to say we’re here for you. The line is a place where parents can be reassured that they’re doing the right thing. Despite my experience as a counsellor, I still needed that.”
Children can also be aware when their parents need help and can feel reassured knowing support is there.
Chief Executive Marj Hunter said: “The responsibility of being a parent can be so overwhelming, there can be a lot of guilt and shame associated with it. We’re here to tell them it’s normal to feel this way.”
Becky added: “This support could be a lifeline. We hope it will provide hope and guidance to those who may be struggling and make them feel enabled and empowered to seek the support they need.”
One caller who used the service reported that they felt heard. They needed to know they were doing enough and appreciated being able to speak to someone.
North East Counselling Services provides counselling and therapy to people living in the North East, working with a variety of challenges including depression, anxiety and stress-related disorders. NECS wants to create a world where counselling is available and accessible to anyone who needs it.
If you are a parent or guardian wishing to access the parent and carer support line, call 0333 358 3040. Callers are welcome to leave a message outside of the opening hours to request a call-back during opening hours.
To access NECS’s other services, visit https://necounselling.org.uk/ or call Head Office on 0191 4661314.