Counselling and mental wellbeing for parents of children with disability

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We all know that caring for and supporting a child with disability is not an easy job. Parents of children with disability can often experience challenges with their mental wellbeing and with feelings of stress, isolation or overwhelm. This is especially true in 2020 with the global health crisis impacting our most vulnerable members of society and their families.

Counselling can support you to cope with some of these feelings and emotions. Practicing self-care is something that our counselling team always encourage and it helps to strengthen your mental wellbeing.

What is mental wellbeing?

Your mental wellbeing is the unique way that you manage your emotions, respond to stressful situations and your general outlook on things that matter to you. Keeping in touch with your mental wellbeing and being aware of how you are feeling mentally (as well as physically) has many benefits. It can help you to deal with stress, improve your mood and promote resilience.

How can I improve my mental wellbeing?

At Xavier, our counsellors have lots of experience supporting families of children with complex disability and high support needs to improve their mental wellbeing. Taking small steps to make changes is a helpful approach. For parents or carers of children with high support needs more often that not your day or week may not go to plan and that’s ok! Making small changes to support your own mental health it a great way to start.

Ideas for mental wellbeing

Things that you can do to improve your mental wellbeing will be very individual so choose some of the ideas that you think might work for you and fit in with your family and your day-to-day routines. And remember, do not stress if things don’t go to plan.

Mindfulness – Mindfulness is about being in the moment rather than thinking (or worrying) about what has happened in the past or what is to come in the future. “Anchoring” yourself is one method to practice mindfulness. To anchor yourself, take a moment to think about five things that you can see, five things that your can hear, five things that you can smell and fine things that you can feel.  

Outdoor activity – Getting outdoors into nature and exercising in natural environments can lift your mood. Researchers have been studying “green exercise” for some years and found that exercising in the presence of nature can have multiple health benefits beyond getting a workout. This is especially noticed in those that suffer with anxiety and depression. Find out more about green exercise from Queensland Health.

Connect more – Feeling connected with people, groups, places and culture can play an important role in your mental wellbeing. Humans evolved in close family groups and our brains are wired for social interaction. This is more challenging during a global health pandemic and if you are struggling have a chat to one of our counsellors.

Look after your physical health – Taking care of your physical health has a flow on effect to your mental wellbeing. You’ve probably heard the phrase “healthy body, healthy mind” but why is this the case? How we think and feel depends on how well our brain is functioning. If you are physically healthy, well-nourished and well-rested you’re set up for your brain to function optimally. Three keys ways to improve your physical health are eating the right nutrients, getting 30 minutes of physical activity each day and getting the good quality sleep and taking breaks to rest when you need to.

Ask for help – If you are feeling overwhelmed and are struggling to cope, always ask for help. This can be asking for help from your support network, sometimes even a quick chat can make you feel better. Or reach out to our team of experienced counsellors who can work with you on ways to support your own mental wellbeing.  Always remember that it’s okay to not be okay.

Getting support

At Xavier, we provide counselling for parents and carers of children with a disability, for children with a disability and for siblings too. Counselling can take place as a family group or individually with family members. If you’d like some further info our counselling service visit our counselling page, email intake@xavier.org.au or call 1800 XAVIER.