National Parents Week - Survey shows Parents need Mental Health Support

As part of National Parent’s Week 2016, St Patrick’s Mental Health Services, in conjunction with the National Parents Council Primary, has released figures from its national parents’ survey showing that over 88% of parents believe that they could benefit from mental health or wellbeing training.

The survey received responses from over 1,200 parents who were asked a range of questions about what they thought was the best way to introduce the building blocks of good mental health in school, as well as their own views on mental health education and needs.  

Survey findings revealed that; 

  • 99% of parents want their child to start building their mental health skills at primary school level
  • 50% believe that this should begin from the ages 4 - 5 (Junior Infants)
  • 50.5% of parents believe that the class teachers should be the person to introduce the topic of mental health to students in schools
  • 88% believed that parents could benefit from health or wellbeing training

Paul Gilligan, CEO of St Patrick’s Mental Health Services, said “All children have the capacity to live emotionally healthy lives. Parents and teachers play a key role in influencing and nurturing this.  For children being emotionally healthy requires feeling loved, believing in themselves, being able to be happy and feeling safe. In order for parents and teachers to look after their child’s emotional health, they need to be able to look after their own.  Having good emotional health and strong psychological resilience helps you enjoy the good and difficult aspects of parenting.  There are skills that parents can practice at home that will improve their own wellbeing and, in turn, their child’s emotional health.  

Tips on how to be an emotionally healthy parent:  

1.     Connecting with your ‘inner parent’;

Focussing on the innate love you have for your child. Your desire to express this love helps you to get back in touch with yourself as a parent, and as a person.  This connection can be delayed or blocked as challenges arise, but opening yourself up to this innate love keeps you energised and puts everything else into perspective. 

2.     Knowing how to be happy.  Particularly “happy parents”;

Having this ability allows us to enjoy life.  It involves a number of skills, one of which involves accepting that you are unique.  By doing this you avoid comparisons with others and the stress of trying to conform to the ‘perfect parent’ type, of which there is no such thing. Your perfect parenting type is the one that fits best with your and your child’s needs.   

3.     Believing that you are a good person and a good parent;

Look for and recognise the best in yourself.  This can help especially when we make mistakes, and in building resilience toward criticism and negativity.   

4.    Ensuring that you live in an emotionally healthy environment 

Creating a safe environment for yourself where you feel physically safe, respected and valued is essential to your psychological well-being.   This includes having a support strategy for when emotional difficulties arise, such as having someone to talk to or seeking help.”  

CEO of the National Parent’s Council, Aine Lynch, said “this survey has given us an insight in to parents’ preferred approach to supporting their children’s mental health, and also how they feel about their own knowledge and awareness of this area.  Schools can use this information to ensure that parents have a say how this topic is addressed, and the high level of participation demonstrates the interest that parents have in this area.”  

“As the National body which represents and supports parents of primary school children in Ireland, we are invested in the emotional wellbeing of our members. If there is one message we can share for National Parent’s Week, it is that parents should not neglect their own mental health while looking after everyone else's.”  


For further information contact;

Michelle Davern, NPC Administrative Officer Tel: 01 887 4488

Aine Lynch, NPC CEO Tel: 087-9294949