Helping-your-child-with-mental-health-issues-

Helping your child with mental health issues – one parent’s story

a paren't story about how they helped their child with mental illness

Having a child with mental health issues is a huge challenge for any parent. There is no manual or guide book to take you step by step through what you will need to do to help your child. As each child is different, so is the best way to help a child who is experiencing mental health issues.

This is the longest post I have ever published on the blog and it is written by a reader of the blog who is graciously sharing her journey as a parent of a child with serious mental health issues which have included severe clinical depression, anxiety, suicide, and self-harm. No graphic details are written about – the post is written from a perspective of what parents can do to help their child. But if you feel these topics will upset you please do not read on.

This post is not medical or professional advice in any capacity. It is one very loving and generous mum who is hoping to help others by sharing her story. If you are concerned that your child has mental health issues please contact a medical practitioner immediately. These resources are also good starting points:

A huge thank you to Oksana Klimova (name has been changed for family privacy) for putting in so much time and effort to write this comprehensive post on helping your child with mental health issues.


As I am writing my story, I am thinking of all the parents out there, whose children are suffering from mental illnesses. This is my personal experience on how to cope when your child is diagnosed with severe clinical depression, and bipolar disorder. This is not medical advice, I am simply sharing our experience of what worked for our family over the last three years.  We have learned some things you don’t get to know about until you are in that situation. I sincerely hope this might be helpful for any parents who are going through hard times with their kids.

Having a child with serious mental health issues can be very destructive for the whole family emotionally.  It can also be an expensive journey. It is extremely difficult but the good news is it is easier and more manageable when you are prepared. When you set aside time to get organised and establish networks, it makes it easier over the long term. The Pareto principle states that 80% of consequences come from 20% of the causes and this applies to managing mental health in your kids too. Prior preparation is the key to running your family’s life smoothly without additional stress.

About our family

Just a couple of words about our family. My husband and I have successful careers, we have lived in different countries and our children have attended international schools. We were high achievers, hardworking, results and solutions driven. All our children played musical instruments and were good at sports. We have a loving nurturing family and I do think we try our best when it comes to family matters. Both my husband and I come from dysfunctional backgrounds, and when we got engaged, we made the decision to build our own loving, stable and reliable family and be there for each other no matter what.  

Trying to control the situation

Life was good until our daughter started to show symptoms of depression and self-harming. We were feeling totally helpless, lost and quite depressed too. We started doing more quick fixes to make ourselves feel better: wine, junk food, too much TV to numb our fears. Our whole attention initially was focused on some future that was different from what we had imagined. We were crying about the lost health of our child, about some bright career and incredible future that we thought she would no longer be able to have.

Our black and white thinking at the time was not allowing us to fully accept the current situation. Our mistake was that we were searching for a deadline by when our girl could get better, we were trying hard to fix the depression and cutting. We sincerely believed that if we worked hard on this for two months we could get out of this terrible situation. We were trying to control the depression and living in some future, not the present moment.

Getting help for all of us

Lucky for us, we woke up and realised that they way were trying to “fix” the problem was not helping our daughter or us. We sought help from a specialised family psychiatrist. Since our case was pretty serious we had a six-hour session in the hospital with an entire mental health team (family psychiatrist, two clinical psychologists, two family health care workers). All of our family members had one on one sessions and group sessions. The psychiatrist was direct and honest. She observed through her clinic that depression can be “contagious”, in her experience once a family member is diagnosed with it within a year other family members can start to show high anxiety, panic attacks and/or depression. 

The psychiatrist’s explanation of why this happens was that when family members are trying to fix the condition without proper knowledge, preparation, and support, it burns them out and their mental helath suffers. 

We needed to be open to new ways of doing things and be disciplined in practicing what we were learning. During the session, the psychiatrist summed together how much work and life experience in years we have between our close family members and close friends (it was over three hundred years collectively in total sum). That was the number that astonished us, the team showed us we could manage this mental illness in our daughter. With their help, we came up with useful strategies and a framework for our family to work with. She also highlighted that the calm is “contagious” too, and we must choose to be calm.

We also understood that when a family as one organic unit is not willing or capable to incorporate the strategies and solutions into their everyday life, even the world’s best medical team won’t be able to help. Our answers were within our family. Family approach was the key, not just treating only our daughter who was suffering from serious mental health issues.  

Table of contents

In this post, I am going to share information on a range of issues that we had to deal with as a family as we were, and still are, caring for our child with mental health issues. You can click on the links to go directly to each section or read the whole article:

Treatment team

When choosing your medical treatment team, it is good to do some research and look for recommendations. I found that child psychologists graduating with Honours are always passionate and enthusiastic. Don’t worry if they might seem young, it can be an advantage. Young psychologists are often very motivated and can understand teenagers. 

It is best to try to organise a short meeting the psychiatrist (psychologist, GP, family therapist) first by yourself without your child. This gives you the opportunity to ask about possible treatments, get to know their background and experience; your gut feeling will tell you whether it is a right person for your child. It might cost more to do this, but there are many worthwhile benefits to having a meeting separately first. It is very hard for your child to change psychologists and have to keep retelling their story, their hope can easily get lost.

After attending several useless meetings, I finally understood that this is my child. I needed to learn that I couldn’t just keep going to anyone to try to fix this. Keeping your emotions out of the way and stay calm through this process is essential. Your gut feeling, logic, support of your family and friends will help you to get through. Take it day by day at the start, and it does get easier. This turns into a new ‘normal’ for your family. 

If your budget allows or you have a friend who is passionate about fitness, organise personal trainer to come to your place or meet in the park. Try to get PT that is young, enthusiastic, and shares other common connecting things with your teenager (electronic games, card games,). Physical exercise has a dramatic effect on sleep and overall wellbeing. 

Some medications have side effects like gaining weight, so there could be a need to have a dietician or nutritionist as part of your team.

Keep in mind that specialists (in our case psychologists) change over time, particularly in public system. People transit jobs, start families, go on long holidays. Before it happens, think about having a transition period whre your child starts to see someone else. Ask your current specialist for a recommendation, it could be someone from the same clinic that already has access to the records – that makes thing a bit easier. Remember it would be beneficial to have a meeting with them by yourself first. Ask your psychiatrist and psychologist for recommended readings, they often have very good lists.

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Building connections

Working with a proactive GP (that has time to call your psychiatrist, psychologists, etc) definitely makes life easier. You can ask to be copied in their communication about your child. Before going to appointments formulate a number of priority questions and attend the appointment prepared. Often I send an email out to our psychiatrist and psychologist with my questions before the appointment to save time.  If you can, try to work with one pharmacy that is close to your home. Connections with pharmacy are important as some medications take time to order. Think about using a Webster pack or make your own pill box. 

Visiting a dentist every three months is incredibly useful. Often depressed people don’t take showers for a number of days and don’t clean their teeth. You will learn how to manage this within your family and treatment team. We also make all the bookings to all the specialists for 12 months up to March the next year. The reason for booking out until March is to cover the Christmas period.  Planning appointments in advance helps you on so many levels (it avoids stress, adds to better planning and organisation). Most parents have other children to take care of, so being organised with these things means you can spend more time with them.

Developing broader community connections like with a surf club, rugby club or joining some hobby group helps as well (a book club, beekeepers, or scrabble etc) can be very helpful. Our local surf club helped us as a family immensely, and our daughter achieved and learnt so much about ocean rescue and has become a well qualified Surf Patroller. Volunteer patrolling helped her to connect with the community, helped her to feel understood, and appreciated, and there was no pressure. 

When you have a plan and establish a well-connected team, everyone benefits from the treatment, and you can start to see the bigger picture which really matters. Remember though you may not be able to open up to everyone. There are a number of reasons like the privacy of your family for example and unfortunately sometimes when people hear about cutting, they don’t want their daughters to be near yours. Other parents can become overwhelmed by fear and want to protect their own family by keeping away from yours. 

Choose thoughtfully about who you can talk openly and safely with about your struggles. We had a family that filed a complaint to the police, they were worried about the cutting and suicide attempts, it was solved quickly but it was additional stress we did not need. The school was a mediator and we fully understood that family’s fears and accepted their position. This helped us to learn how to filter. The safest way is to talk to your closest friends and your therapist, this will also ensure you will reach some answers and strategies. 

We do have amazing friends and understanding school community, we feel supported. We can drop by anytime at our friends’ homes whenever we are hungry or lonely. 

This is what our team looks like:       

Helping your child with serious mental health issues

I also found understanding Bronfenbrenner’s ecological system on child’s development helped me to establish an active position in the treatment planning and strategies.

Helping your child with mental health issues

Source: Bronfenbrenner: ecological theory of child development (Source: Santrock, 2008; p.33)  

Helping your child with mental illness

Source: Bronfenbrenner’s ecological system on mental health

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Medications

Set up alarms on your phone for when medications need to be taken. Allocate a folder on your phone, or file in the cloud with medical records, scripts that you can access easily from anywhere. Take a screenshot of all scripts, update those as you go. Have a spare set of medications that are always in your bag and another one in your child’s bag. There are carry on little pill boxes with key chains that can be connected to bags. Pharmacies prepare Webster packs, you can also organise your own, there is an arrangement of pill boxes on the market. Share this information with your husband, your child and school so every one know exactly what medication needs to be take when.

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Groceries, food preparation, cleaning

When you are in the peak of diagnosis and the condition, do as much as you can to save yourself time and energy. Order groceries online and organise home deliveries, have back up meals, for instance microwaveable meals, Ikea frozen food (meatballs, mash) etc so if there is a bad day, there is something you can reheat quickly and feed the family with. Planning the monthly menu helps a lot.  I use Nic’s free template for menu planning.

My basic principle with cleaning is to try to have fewer things in your house and children’s bedrooms, it will seriously help you to stay on top of the mundane home tasks. If your budget allows, hire a cleaner once a fortnight or once a month. Or ask friends to help you with cleaning and laundry or ask them to cook dinner for you or dessert.  I used to drop off all my linen to my close friend’s house. Having fresh laundry is magical. Friends love to help, they just need to be asked as usually, they don’t know how they can help you in these difficult times. Building that sense of connection, sense of belonging is beneficial for everyone in your circle. Your friends will feel useful and helpful. When people ask what to get you for a gift, ask for massage vouchers, cleaning vouchers, window cleaning or dry-cleaning. It does make a difference! 

We purchased a Thermomix and taught all the children how to use it. I actually organised a demonstration only for our family, it was a good family building experience. Now our children often cook their favourite meals and prepare sorbets and smoothies for their friends. Cooking in the Thermomix saved us a lot of time, we mainly use one-pot recipes and the Cookido app

Enquire more about gut health with your health care team, there is an established correlation between gut health and overall wellbeing. The field of nutritional psychiatry is becoming more developed. Ask your psychiatrist and psychologist to recommend books for you to read. There is a lot of information out there and you need to read what is relevant for you and has meaning for your circumstances. You don’t want to waste your time just reading everything. I make notes in my books with pencil and highlighters, put some sticky notes too, so I can always get back to useful areas.

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Self-care for you, siblings and your partner

Take rest. A field that has rested gives bountiful crops. ~ Ovid

We found it was very important to have therapy organised for all family members. Your state government will have a list of local mental health resources – this is the one for Victoria. See what services you are entitled to access. 

The impact mental health issues have on siblings is significant. Their lives are changed every day. It is not easy to learn to adjust all the time. They need a lot of attention and guidance. It is incredibly hard to be a brother or sister of a person who tried to commit suicide. It is not what you want to be remembered for in school. Siblings need on-going support, and going to a child psychologist is helpful. 

Organise regular sleepovers at their close friend’s homes, they need time away from home when things get turbulent. Spend one on one time with them, going to the movies, or doing activities they love together can be very helpful. Try to be an active listener during those times, not a talker. Validating their feelings without trying to fix and solve is a great approach that works. 

Book routine appointments for all family members with your family GP to check iron, vitamin B and D, thyroid function. Those markers can go down during stress. You must keep yourself healthy first (it’s like putting an oxygen mask on yourself first then on your child). 

Exercise regularly, it helps manage stress.  Take fish oil regularly for all family members, there is a number of evidence based research proving fish oil does help. Go for more concentrated versions if you can. Ask your psychiatrist what is the best one to take and what quantities.

Read about the positive effects meditation can have. There are free apps available. We use Smiling Mind and Calm for adults and children. Think about the use of the internet within the family. We found setting limits worked for us and we used Disney Circle to do this. 

Plan your rest, just like your plan your chores, plan going out with children and your partner. If you don’t plan your rest and recreation you will get burned out and exhausted and will not be able to help anyone. 

It is worth keeping your own journal to offload your emotions or opening your digital journaling on a private Instagram/ Facebook account where you load uplifting quotes, pictures, and write down your thoughts.

Having a small garden is great for your soul. I focus on growing herbs and low maintenance vegetables in pots right at the kitchen door. Eating your own greens makes you feel good and healthy, it doesn’t consume too much time once established. Getting a small pet that works for you is also a good idea. As for dogs go for non-shedding breeds – you don’t want to be added more to the housework chores. Pets are always there for every family member and can provide great comfort. 

Atmosphere at home: try to stay calm. High emotions and drama are not good for anyone. Calm and anxiety can be contagious, there is a chain reaction for both of them. It will take time to choose calm over high emotions, it challenging but it is worth it. When talking to your friends or to your partner try not to talk only about your child’s condition, don’t make this difficult time a story of your life. Go out, try to enjoy things you love doing.

Helping your child with mental health issues

Source: Stress Pocket Book by Mary Richards

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Relationships and Communication

Being clear and respectful with your communication at home is vital. Try to avoid conflicts – think before you speak and work out if you really need to comment. Read more about Karpman’s drama triangle and how to get out of it. We have a rule at home when two people have any discussion no one is allowed to interrupt without permission. Understanding Karpman’s theory helped us in many other areas of communication at work, school not just home. 

BPDFamily.com is a leading online support group for the family members of individuals suffering from Borderline personality disorder (BPD) and other personality and impulse disorders. It has an excellent article on Escaping Conflict and the Karpman Drama Triangle which is worth reading if you have any conflict you are finding difficult to manage, but these quote from the article highlights the key premise of this theory:

Karpman Drama Triangles – Pathological Conflict

drama triangle

The drama triangle was originally conceived (1968-1972) by Karpman as a way of graphically displaying the complex interaction that occurs between people embroiled in pathological conflict. Dr. Karpman was a young psychiatrist studying under Eric Berne, M.D., the creator of transactional analysis psychology. Transactional analysis is based on the idea that one’s behaviour and social relationships reflect an interchange between parental (critical and nurturing), adult (rational), and childlike (intuitive and dependent) aspects of personality established early in life.

Karpman observed that in conflict and drama, there is “good guy vs bad guy” thinking. He also observed that the participants become drawn in, even seduced, by the energy that the drama generates. The drama obscures the real issues. Confusion and upset escalates. Solutions are no longer the focus.

Karpman defined three roles in the “transaction”; Persecutor, Rescuer (the one up positions) and Victim (one down position). Karpman placed these three roles on an inverted triangle and described them as being the three aspects, or faces of drama.

The Victim The victim  in Karpman’s triangle is not an actual victim, but rather someone feeling or acting like a victim. Karpman, who had interests in acting and was a member of the screen actors guild, choose the term “drama triangle” rather the term “conflict triangle” because his victim is acting. Nonetheless, the victim sincerely feels victimized, oppressed, helpless, hopeless, powerless, ashamed, and seems unable to make decisions, solve problems, take pleasure in life, or achieve insight. The victim’s stance is “Poor me!”

The Persecutor The persecutor is controlling, blaming, critical, oppressive, angry, authoritative, rigid, and superior – self-righteous. The persecutor insists, “It’s all your fault.”

The Rescuer The rescuer is a classic enabler. The rescuer feels guilty if he/she doesn’t rescue. Yet his/her rescuing has negative effects: it keeps the victim dependent and gives the victim permission to fail. It also keeps the rescuer stuck in focusing energy on someone else’s problems, not solving his/her own. The rescuer’s line is “Let me help you.”

Karpman’s triangle is a simple tool for conceptualizing the dynamics of dysfunctional roles in conflict and for mapping the role changes as the conflict grows.

Source: Escaping Conflict and the Karpman Drama Triangle

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School and home schooling

Stay connected with your child’s school. Look at a range of options that might help your child stay connected and attending school in some way – think about partial days or attending only subjects that your child is interested in. Provide the school with letters and any necessary recommendations from your medical team to support your child and develop effective strategies.

Be open with school about the situation, ask them to keep an eye on your other children as well. Try not to change schools too often, as it may add more pressure on the family and your child. For any reason, if your child is out of school, it is easy to organise a tutor, a young uni student, or Y11 or 12 child that is keen to work. The tutoring can be organised anywhere comfortable for you (at the house, cafe, park or beach) and can help your child to keep going with their schooling. We combined part-time school with tutoring at home for our daughter.

Some schools have a card system that can be used when your child is not feeling well. A card can be raised by the child so the teacher knows to discreetly let them go to the rest area or any other designated area. You can also ask the school for permission to allow your child to wear earphones if classrooms become too noisy and overwhelming for your child. 

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Suicide watch

If you are on suicide watch, have friends over to stay for a night with you, organise family movie nights. The first two weeks for us were quite daunting and overwhelming, you are so scared to fail. We developed Risk Assessment and Risk Management for our situation. Once you have that it is easy to follow in a crisis and it will help you stay focused. Some components of our Risk Management included locking all the doors, checking the windows in our child’s bedroom, removing all sharps, storing all medications in the safe. At one point in time, I had one bread knife in the kitchen, and I knew exactly how many knives I had out for cooking and hid them away after I had finished. We took turns sleeping in the living room on the way to the main door.

Suicide watch unfortunately can stay for a while and come back at different times and you will eventually establish the routines that work for you. It will pass. Things will get back to normal. It just takes some time. Try to stay calm. Don’t blame yourself if there was an attempt. It can still happen despite all your efforts, we had four. Everyone in the family may need counselling afterwards.

This is a good time to attain a First Aid Certificate. Ask your pharmacy to prepare for you a First Aid Kit – it comes in very handy. Make sure you continue to update it every year. 

When there is an incident and you have to drive to a hospital’s emergency service, organise someone to either be with you or meet you there to park your car for you. It is hard to find parking spaces, especially in an emergency. Until I worked this out, I had to park in spaces for wheelchair access to get to ER fast and then had to write a number of letters to avoid hefty fines. 

Have an emergency bag labelled and organised (same concept as a bag for maternity ward) ready to go at all times. Mine contained prescription medications, painkillers, books, device charges, change of clothing for me and my child, pyjamas, sick bag, small towel and small blanket and a spare folder with our daughter’s medical history, referrals and phone numbers. 

The Child Adolescent Mental ward can seem like a scary place. But it is not. It can actually give everyone a good opportunity to reset while your child is the mental ward. Try to take a rest, have more regular sleep and step down from being on high alert all the time. The care team for our daughter was amazing in the ward, we all felt safe and secure, and learnt so much about ourselves. 

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Cutting

You can’t be prepared for when your child starts cutting, unfortunately. It will pass once the medication and psychological help is fully established. But this can take a long time – up to several years. Our daughter doesn’t cut anymore, it took many hours of therapy for all of us and medication. Girls tend to cut their thighs, and stomach, so no one can see scars. This behaviour is quite addictive. They think it relieves the internal pain. All it does is creates a vicious circle of cutting, then feeling shame, embarrassment and helplessness.

On your own, you can’t stop your child from wanting to self harm but you can work gradually towards managing how to avoid it. Try to hide sharp objects (scissors, sewing needles, knives, sharp tools) but remember sometimes other objects can be used like a sharp rock. Our First Aid Kit has a lot of items for small wound treatments.

If cutting happens, don’t blame anyone, stay calm it will get better. Please don’t be judgemental or feel a failure. Determine if the cuts are deep enough to have stitches – if so take them to a medical facility, otherwise clean up the wounds and put some treatment on them and cover with bandages. Your treatment team will provide advice and guidance on how you can deal with the wounds and your child at this time.

These are some strategies we use with our daughter to help manage the urge to cut:

  • Have ice cubes ready in the freezer to keep in the palms of hands
  • Use cold showers
  • Have her wear rubber bands on her wrists to pull at when she feels like cutting
  • Tell someone about it
  • Call Kids Line
  • Try to change the scene, walk out of the room, take a pet for walk, start watching your favourite show.

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Vision board and your own personal space

vision board

I am lucky to have my own study that I don’t share with anyone. I made it out of the entry hall to the front door that we don’t use, it is small but so convenient. Having somewhere to go where I can be on my own and write down my thoughts has been important.

I have also found a vision board to be a great tool for a number of reasons. I regularly update my vision boards and they help me to cope and remind me that it is going to be ok. I have one for mental health and one for my gardening.  There are also quotes and books scattered around my home, I find reading therapeutic. My laundry walls are full of quotes and pictures. I just write some using a whiteboard marker on the window and walls. Some of those are helpful notes from our doctors and books.

Mothers do need their personal space, whether it just a table or a small corner.

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Random thoughts:

These items didn’t fit neatly into any of the above sections but I feel these points are important to families who are just at the start of the journey in helping their child with mental illness:

  • Joining Facebook groups: most of the members go to offload in the group. You may end up feeling overwhelmed with their stories and feel despondent. Some groups do have good resources though so try them but be cautious. I must say I found it very sad and left.
  • Make a playlist of uplifting songs, try not to listen to sad songs. I have a playlist when I am angry, I listen to it in the car, it helps me to get it out of my system. You can get angry, you will learn to manage it by meditating, exercising, and accepting.
  • Make a list of helpful podcasts, it is incredibly resourceful and helpful. 
  • Make a playlist of good family movies.
  • Escapism, anime or electronic games for your child is totally understandable.
  • Sometimes you cannot find reasons why this illness happened, you keep analysing and drive yourself mad with it; it is hard, but try to put that behind you and deal with the current situation and solutions will eventually come.
  • Travelling: precautions. Travel to places with appropriate infrastructure and necessary facilities for your situation. 
  • It is ok to cry, crying is good. It does help. We are only beings that have a mechanism to cry. It is ok to cry in front of children and friends. We are not robots, we are humans with feelings and emotions. It is ok to stay in bed for longer sometimes, you must schedule time off for yourself, otherwise, you will just get drained and exhausted. You must try to stay in shape to help your family.
  • When talking to your child don’t tell success stories about people overcoming depression and how they did it. It can make them feel like a failure, they may think you are disappointed. Don’t compare your children to anyone. 
  • Prepare to be verbally abused, prepare to hear profanities and don’t take it personally.
  • Prepare to hear crying for a long time coming out of your child’s bedroom, check on them, offer hugs, offer cups of tea. If they want to be left alone, let them. Listening to their crying is heart-breaking. Your child is hurting deeply, the change for better will come, it takes a long time. Keep reminding yourself and believing that you all will be ok, this is just a sad moment. 
  • Go out with your partner but make a rule not to talk about your children or the household. Use this time for discussing something you are both interested in. 
  • Volunteer for Are You Ok Day on Thursday 10 September 2020 in your school, community organisation or work place. 
  • Ancient philosophers already wrote many works on self-development and stoicism. Reading Seneca and Marcus Aurelius helps to understand many situations. 

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Resources I frequently use:

I have over four hundred hard copy books on mental health, parenting, healthy eating, mindfulness, yoga, brain development, efficiency, adolescence development, digital solutions and quotes. I have another fifty in digital format. There was a time when I could not get all the answers I wanted because of long waitlists. I had many sleepless nights frantically searching for them in books, peer-reviewed psychology journals etc. Also, being a member of your local library is very useful for the whole family, it offers free outing, connection building, and learning.    

Joining free community courses on Mental Health was so useful for myself and my husband. Your Community Mental Health Organisation will have the list of the courses and resources you could use. Other resources I have found helpful are:

  • Viktor Frankl’s memoir Man’s Search for Meaning
  • You can read up more on Bronfenbrenner’s ecology system and Karpman’s triangle on the internet
  • Resources for young adults – this contains list of useful organisations
  • Chelsea Pottenger’s podcasts and advice – she is mental health ambassador for R U OK? I follow her on her Instagram and attended her workshop.
  • Paul Dillon – he has been working in the area of drug education for more than 25 years. He continues to work with many school communities across the country to ensure that they have access to good quality information and best practice drug education. In 2009, his best-selling book for parents was published titled Teenagers, Alcohol and Drugs and has since been released internationally, being translated into a number of languages.  
  • Dr Justin Coulson – he is one of Australia’s leading parenting experts, he and his wife have six daughters. We have all his books and try to practice his recommendations, he also engages in free community talks and free webinars.
  • Professor Brene Brown – “Brown has spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. She’s the author of five #1 New York Times bestsellers: The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, Rising Strong, Braving the Wilderness, and Dare to Lead, which is the culmination of a seven-year study on courage and leadership.”
  • Dr. Mark Hyman – is a practicing family physician and an internationally recognized leader, speaker, educator, and advocate in the field of Functional Medicine. 

Some podcasts I found useful to listen in the car: 

I found printing out all the necessary numbers (and their opening hours), keeping all those essential details in our home phonebook and our mobiles, you don’t want to have to search for them in crisis.

NamesContact NumbersOpening Hours
Ambulance
GP
Pharmacy 
Psychiatrist
Psychologist
Family Therapist
Community Crisis Mental Health Line is very helpful during crisis
Kids line 
Neighbours
Friends who know the family situation and willing to help. 
School community, teachers
Favourite take away store that delivers

Nic – I have made a Google Spreadsheet template of this list here. To be able to edit a copy of this sheet and add your own data, you need to make a copy of the sheet first. To do that you need to:

  • Open the spreadsheet
  • Click on ‘file’, then ‘make a copy’
  • Name the sheet and click on okay
  • You will now be able to make whatever changes you like.

You will need a Google account to do this. If you don’t have a Google account already you will need to sign up for one. This doesn’t mean you have to get a Gmail address. Google accounts don’t have to use Gmail addresses. A Google account is simply a unified sign-in system that gives you access to Google products, including Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides. You can associate any email address with a Google account. To sign up for a Google Account go here.

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In summary:

To summarise the key things we have learnt over the last few years are:

  • Connectivity with all people helping your child is a key to building healthy relationships and sets good foundations towards recovery for the whole family as one unit. 
  • Self-care is key to a strong foundation for your family
  • Asking for help is important, you are not alone and people will want to help you
  • Developing self-compassion and empathy is essential
  • Writing what went well will help you when you re-read those notes during the tough moments 
  • You are going to be ok

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How things are now

I am not going to write that everything is great now. We have recently received a new diagnosis for our daughter – Bipolar disorder. It is manageable and requires self-discipline from us and our child. That requires a lot of energy and smooth logistics.  My husband and I are working together to the best we can to help our child and our family.

Ultimately, we understand what needs to be done and what needs to be prioritised. We love each other and value our family. There won’t be a lot of chances for success in our story without building a strong bond with our children and staying calm.

We gradually expose our daughter to taking public transport, flying unaccompanied, any new situations so she can learn how to cope and manage her condition and anxiety. Being involved in sports has helped develop an incredible amount of self-confidence and builds a strong sense of belonging for her. I have a good feeling it will happen, she will grow up into a young confident woman that knows what to do and value life.

Love, Oksana Klimova

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Once again thank you so much to Oksana for sharing your story – your love and dedication to helping your daughter is inspiring.

Comments 7

  1. Absolutely awesome this is the stuff no one tells you about, management, choices, organisational skills – fantastic article I will share and keep. Well worth reading thank you so much for sharing. Inspiring!

  2. What an amazing parent you are. An amazingly helpful and inspiring story that I will be sharing with others. Thank you so much for your honesty and for all your amazing advice. I wish your family all the very best.

  3. This is a very important post and should be pinned to the top of this website in some way so as many parents as possible can see it. I will be keeping this one handy forever.

  4. Really fabulous post. I have been increasingly frustrated about how hard it is to find the help one needs. There are so many rabbit holes to go down, waiting lists to go on and when in crisis, so little time and brain space to explore them all. It is so heartening to hear that others have also found it challenging. Thanks for putting your thoughts down!

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    Author

    I am so proud to have been able to have published this post and very glad you have found it helpful. Thank you very much for taking the time to let us know – I have made sure that Oksana knows it has helped. ~ Nic

  6. Thank you Oksana and Nic for this excellent article. I am just at the beginning of a similar journey, though perhaps less acute, with one of my children and the information is incredibly helpful. I will be reading and re-reading this!

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