British Columbia

New podcast helps parents raising kids with mental illness

A new podcast from a team at B.C Children's Hospital is helping parents raising kids with mental health conditions — and providing assistance to their parents too.

'You're overwhelmed, you are exhausted, you don't know what to do,' says parent

The 'Where you are' podcast tackles issues ranging from anxiety to more serious illnesses with an emphasis for parents that they too need to look out for their own mental well being. (Kelty mental health resource)

A new podcast from a team at B.C. Children's Hospital is helping parents raising kids with mental health conditions — and providing assistance to their parents too.

"Parents are really wanting information and help on how to navigate the system, and how do you get information on the struggles that a child has," says Mary McCracken, who is a parent of a child who had an eating disorder.

McCracken was initially blindsided by the experience.

"You're overwhelmed, you are exhausted, you don't know what to do, you don't even know what it is you're dealing with, it affects the whole family," she said.

After her daughter recovered, McCracken began to work as a parent in residence at the hospital supporting families at the Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre, which is rolling out the new podcast called Where you are. She says information that supports parents through trying times is absolutely necessary. 

Michelle Horn, left, and Char Black are hosts of the podcast and both work at the BC Children's Hospital as part of the Mental Health Literacy Team. (kelty mental health resource)

The Where you are podcast tackles issues ranging from anxiety to more serious illnesses with an emphasis for parents that they too need to look out for their own mental well being.

"You cannot support somebody when you're exhausted yourself. You're not showing up your best," McCracken said.

Dr. Ashley Miller, a B.C. Children's Hospital psychiatrist says most parents want information for early intervention.

"One of the things I love .. is getting to start working with families and youth early...and help their children get back on track with their development," Miller said.

"We try to address all of [that] in the podcast."

She said it's important that parents seek out the support they need.

"One of the first steps for parents is connection..reaching out getting information from the podcast... getting some support, feeling connected so they're not alone in the struggle and taking care of themselves," she said.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada estimates that 1.2 million children and youth in Canada are affected by mental illness, and fewer than 20 per cent receive appropriate treatment. 

with files from On the Coast

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