Mental health and emotional support for kinship carers
Taking care of your mental and emotional wellbeing is as important as your physical health when you’re a kinship carer.
Raising a child in kinship care is one of the most fulfilling and rewarding acts you can make. But caring also brings its own challenges, and it’s important that you look after yourself on your kinship journey.
Families may experience difficulties related to:
- trauma and its effects on the child
- interpersonal relationships with the child’s parents
- balancing caring with work and other commitments
- money worries
- health problems – your child’s or your own
The good news is support is available to help you navigate the challenges that life as a kinship carer may throw at you.
Mental and emotional health
As a kinship carer, your mental and emotional health is a priority. Because you are focusing on meeting others’ needs regularly, it’s easy for your own needs to get sidelined.
Stress, depression and anxiety are common mental health risks when you are a kinship carer. There are things you can put in place to help build your resilience. It is important that we manage our stress to keep it at a healthy level and prevent it from doing long-term damage to our bodies and minds.
Most of us feel the symptoms of stress at different times in our life. The chemicals that make you feel stressed – like cortisol and adrenaline – can build up over time and cause powerful mental and physical effects.
Left unchecked, stress can make you feel overwhelmed, unable to cope, take its toll on your mood and your ability to concentrate. It can manifest itself as over-tiredness, racing heartbeat, tense muscles, headaches, and problems sleeping.
It’s very important to be able to recognise when your mind and body are stressed, and to get help from your doctor if stress is making you ill.
Putting a self-care routine in place and committing to it can help you prevent and counteract the symptoms of stress as a kinship carer. Self-care takes many forms, including:
- doing the things you enjoy/hobbies
- taking exercise
- making time for yourself
- relaxation and meditation
- seeing friends
Support is available to help you manage stress and your mental and emotional health.
Here are some ways you can access support as a kinship carer:
- Find your local kinship peer group
- Contact Someone Like Me, our volunteer-run telephone support service
- Join our Facebook kinship carers group
Get specialist support
There are organisations and charities that specialise in mental health support and can help you manage your mental and emotional wellbeing.
Mind is a national charity that offers advice and guidance on all things mental health.
Samaritans is a national charity that supports people in a crisis.
Information on child and adolescent mental health. Services for parents and professionals.
Parents’ helpline: 0808 802 5544 (Monday–Friday, 9.30am–4pm)
Rethink Mental Illness
Support and advice for people living with mental illness.
Phone: 0300 5000 927 (Monday–Friday, 9.30am–4pm)
Young suicide prevention society.
Phone: 0800 068 4141 (9am–midnight, every day of the year)
Mental Health Foundation
Provides information and support for anyone with mental health problems or learning disabilities.
Charity providing support if you have been diagnosed with an anxiety condition.
Phone: 03444 775 774 (Monday–Friday, 9.30am–5.30pm)
A charity helping people living with manic depression or bipolar disorder.
CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15 to 35.
Phone: 0800 58 58 58 (5pm–midnight, every day)
Men’s Health Forum
24/7 stress support for men by text, chat and email.
Voluntary charity offering support for sufferers of panic attacks and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Offers a course to help overcome your phobia or OCD.
Phone: 0844 967 4848 (10am–10pm, every day). Calls cost 5p per minute plus your phone provider’s access charge.
Support for people with OCD, including information on treatment and online resources.
Phone: 0845 390 6232 (Monday–Friday, 9.30am–5pm). Calls cost 5p per minute plus your phone provider’s access charge.
A charity run by people with OCD, for people with OCD. Includes facts, news and treatments.
Phone: 0333 212 7890 (Monday–Friday, 9am–5pm)