Mental Health Awareness Week – Supporting Parent Carer Wellbeing


We started mental health awareness week with the joint PACC and Autism West Midlands Conference, ‘Living Positively with Neurodiversity’.  We opened the conference by considering what it means to be a parent carer, and how many extra balloons we have to hold! 

A parent carer is legally defined as “a person aged 18 or over who provides or intends to provide care for a disabled child for whom the person has parental responsibility.”  This can include foster carers and kinship carers.  There is increasing amounts of research that being a parent carer can have a significant impact on wellbeing and mental health.  Parenting is a difficult enough job, but if you are providing care and support over and above what might normally be expected for a child of a similar age, you may have additional practical, emotional and financial pressures and worries.  This may in turn have an adverse impact on your own well-being, physical health, social connections and relationships.

A recent paper ‘Parent Carer Trauma: A discussion paper on trauma and parents of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (Parent Carers)’ explores the impact of becoming ‘battle weary’, living with uncertainty about the future and being isolated or losing contact with friends or support networks, amongst other things.

With this in mind it is important that we think about how parent carer wellbeing and mental health can be supported.  Services need to ensure that they engage with parent carers in a supportive, understanding and empathic way.  Access to peer support helps to develop a sense of belonging, reducing isolation and the possibility of mental health deteriorating.

Parent Carer Needs Assessments are available from the Local Authority to respond to the need to support parent carer wellbeing.  More information is available about this here

PACC also offers the Healthy Parent Carer Programme, online and free of charge. This programme was designed by parent carers working in partnership with the Peninsula Childhood Disability Research Unit (PenCRU) based in the University of Exeter Medical School. It is designed to improve parent carers’ health and wellbeing by promoting empowerment, confidence, and resilience. It is delivered by trained parent carer and offers simple and straightforward ways to support parent carers quality of life.

The following feedback is from a parent carer who participated in the first Healthy Parent Carer programme delivered by PACC HPC trainers Abi and Denise.

I have really enjoyed getting to know everyone and it has been a good mix of people. I think you both provide an atmosphere in which it is easy to speak and be heard. It has been great to join people who understand the stresses and strains of being a parent carer with a safe space to vent sometimes and also sympathy and empathy as well as problem-solving. The topics covered are very relevant to a holistic approach to being a more healthy parent carer, the pace of the meetings are good. There is structure and fun activities which is very important but also flexibility with how the sessions are delivered and tailored to the people on the course. I have found it very useful to have time to concentrate on myself in this way.

If you would like to know more about the Healthy Parent Carer Programme contact  There will be a new course starting in September 2024.


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