World Mental Health Day

More parents than ever before are needing support with poor mental health, warns leading family support charity.

Home-Start East Surrey which works with local families has said that it has seen a huge increase in dealing with mental health issues in parents. Not only with diagnosed conditions such as anxiety and depression, but also with peri-natal mental health in expectant mothers.

This comes in the week that sees World Mental Health Day (10th October), highlighting the need to increase awareness and support for mental health.

Home-Star East Surrey works with local families in times of distress; preventing their problems from spiraling out of control, and often preventing crisis. Tailor made emotional and practical support is delivered by trained parent volunteers to families in their own homes. Volunteers support parents with a range of issues from poverty and isolation through to domestic abuse and illness and disability.

Lynne Martin, Chair of Home-Start East Surrey said: “Already this year, 67% of our referrals have been in needing support with mental health issues. The fact that Home-Start is a confidential and non-judgemental service, is the reason that we feel that many parents are able to open up and confide in us. It’s crucial that more parents feel able to access support with poor mental health, as it can dramatically affect their ability to parent their children, and can often affect their emotional attachment they have with their family.”

Across the county, eight local Home-Start schemes work with 300 families. Of those 200+ families are affected by poor mental health. In its 20 year history, Home-Start East Surrey still sees isolation as the biggest reason parents ask for support, and is an issue that can be linked to problems with mental health and emotional well-being.

One mum supported by Home-Start East Surrey said: “Home-Start enabled me to pick up pieces of my old life. The whole world seemed oblivious to the dark four walls I was living in. Home-Start switched on the light. They changed how I was able to cope.”

As the increase in referrals to Home-Start continues, there is a greater need for more local volunteers to come forward and be trained to support local families.

Lynne Martin continued: “To be a Home-Start volunteer all you need is parenting experience, empathy and a non-judgmental attitude. Our volunteers come from all walks of life and have many different life experiences. Volunteers are fully trained, receive regular ongoing support and will have the knowledge that they are making a real difference to a family in Surrey, and are part of the biggest network of parent volunteers in the country.”

One Home-Start Surrey volunteer said: “I joined Home-Start as a volunteer because I wanted to give something back to society, but now that I have been with my family for a year, I realise how much it means to me. I have found something I am good at and it really makes me feel better about myself.” To find out more about becoming a Home-Start volunteer go to www.home-starteastsurrey.org.uk or email: homestarteastsurrey@btconnect.com