Frequently Asked Questions about The Parent Support Network™
The Parent Support Network model is based on the following foundation:
– Meetings are in-person, confidential and free for parents and caregivers;
– Meetings are open to any parent or caregiver who is concerned about their kids (ages 1 – 24) who struggle with anxiety, depression, mood dysregulation, or other emotional, behavioral or mental health problems;
– A child does NOT need to have a diagnosis for a parent to benefit from meetings;
– Meetings are organized and led by a trained Facilitator who is a parent or caregiver with lived experience raising a child with a mental health condition;
– While the dialogue among parents is facilitated, the content is driven by the needs of the parents in attendance;
– Parents work together to share experiences and resources. Parents also work together to gather a reliable and vetted list of invaluable community and regional resources to help each other and to enable other families to seek and find the help they need. Vetted for parents and by parents, there is no better resource than a referral from someone who shares your experience.
The Facilitators are vetted, trained and supported by The Youth Mental Health Project and are dedicated to helping parents navigate a difficulties that they have experienced themselves.
While each meeting will be guided by one or more Facilitators using a defined structure and format, the topics of discussion are driven by the parent attendees and the particular concerns or feelings they bring to the meeting. Typical topics include, but are not limited to, concerns about behaviors, therapy, treatment, medication, education, diagnosis, relationships with friends and family, and the impact on siblings.
The Facilitators are trained to use any topic of discussion as an opportunity to help parents feel connected and work through hard to have feelings, such as blame, shame, guilt, anger, disappointment, and frustration, enabling them to find hope, gratitude, acceptance and strength.
Since there is no set curriculum, parents can decide when to attend based upon their own schedule and may choose to attend regularly or sporadically.
As parents may have children at home who need care and whose needs are often unpredictable, flexibility is built-in to allow parents to arrive late or leave early. Facilitators are trained to create a comfortable and safe environment for all attendees.
We suggest you make arrangements for your children with a trusted caregiver or, if there are two parents involved, have one parent attend the meeting while the other parent stays with the child/ children.
The Parent Support Network™ meetings are meant as an outlet and safe space for peer to peer adult support and can be an essential part of self-care for parents.
Anonymity is a foundation of safety, particularly during times of stress, anxiety and worry. We support and protect each individual’s need to maintain privacy and anonymity and insist that all Network attendees agree to maintain the confidentiality and privacy of all attendees and their family members. We respect the right of each individual and his or her family to determine if, when and where they are willing to share their identities or personal stories or experiences.
Facilitators are also trained to use a Conversation Toolkit to help make it easier for attendees to share.
Of course, parents are in a room with other parents who know how difficult it can be to ignore a call from a child who is struggling or a babysitter or other parents who may be managing a difficult situation.
Meetings are intended to be free of judgment and safe spaces to do what you need to do, so any parent who feels the need to take a phone call should quietly step out of the room.
Mental health continuously shifts, changes and evolves during a lifetime. This is particularly true during childhood, as a person’s body grows, develops, and builds up immunity. If a child’s mental health struggles are causing impairment in functioning in any significant way at home, at school or with friends, that child may be experiencing a condition that is commonly referred to as mental illness.*
Recovery from any illness, both mental and physical, occurs when a person regains the ability to function appropriately without severe impairment.
* ANY INFORMATION, SUGGESTIONS OR ADVICE PROVIDED BY THE YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH PROJECT OR FACILITATORS OF THE PARENT SUPPORT NETWORK DO NOT CONSTITUTE MEDICAL OR LEGAL ADVICE AND ARE NOT INTENDED TO BE RELIED UPON TO CURE, DIAGNOSE, OR TREAT ANY MENTAL OR PHYSICAL HEALTH CONDITION.
That being said, The Parent Support Network™ materials are costly to create, manage, and update and a great deal of work goes into continuous and ongoing support of each affiliate. In order to establish and maintain a local affiliate while continuing to offer free, meaningful support to families, The Youth Mental Health Project will work with Facilitators and Sponsors to help them find ways to fund the model. (More details about the funding model will be provided upon request.)
Some of the affiliates of The Parent Support Network™ are fully or partially financed by Sponsors, who are organizations, individuals, or groups in the community interested in supporting family mental health. Any of The Parent Support Network™ affiliates can also secure initial or ongoing funding through grants. Funding to support an affiliate of The Parent Support Network™ can also be raised through fundraising events and donations, using the 501(C)(3) nonprofit status of The Youth Mental Health Project. In all cases, The Youth Mental Health Project is available to collaborate and support local efforts to sustain and fund a Network.
The Parent Support Network™ affiliates guide parents through their intense feelings and circumstances to a deeper sense of belonging, role modeling, and sharing valuable resources, all of which foster personal growth and improved outcomes for families.
Creating an affiliate through The Youth Mental Health Project means you will benefit from personalized support, training, assistance in growing presence in your community, marketing and communication materials, 501(c)(3) status, insurance, web presence for your affiliate, social media tools and more.