Being the parent or carer of a child with a mental health condition is difficult and often stressful and worrying. We know that parents face their own emotional, and soemtimes financial difficulties relating to caring for their child, and that they often worry about the impact on siblings who don't use our services. This page is designed to help you in relation to siblings.
Parenting the sibling of someone with a mental health condition brings other demands and it is important to acknowledge these and make sure siblings continue to feel part of the family and continue to feel supported and cared for. Parents or carers tell us they can feel ‘stuck in the middle’, finding it difficult to try and find the happy medium between supporting both their child who sees us for support and their siblings, leaving them wondering if they are getting it right.
Siblings are often expected to continue as normal and get on with their lives. They can find it difficult to talk to their parents or carers about their emotions because they don’t want to be disloyal to their sibling receiving mental health support, even though their difficulties might be affecting everyone in the family.
Siblings often take on added responsibilities, from practical help around the house to emotional responsibilities, such as worries and anxieties and trying to protect those around them from upset. Often, siblings might not share those emotional pressures with others around them because they don’t want to burden their family with even more worries. Nevertheless, they can add to stress, anxieties and feelings of anger, helplessness or confusion.
If you are worried about other children in your family and the impact your child’s mental health condition has on other children in your family, speak to your Forward Thinking Birmingham worker or someone your child is close to about it, so that they can get help if needed.
There are other ways you can support your other child or children:
- Try and find time to spend with the other child at home. This could be a particular activity, such as cooking dinner once a week together, going for a walk or sharing an interest.
- If appropriate explain the mental health condition to your other child so they can understand.
- Ask them about their feelings and allow them to vent frustrations or worries that might have grown inside.
For further information and ideas to support other siblings at home, have a look at the Sibs website.