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At NHS Doncaster Talking Therapies, we understand that being a parent can be incredibly rewarding, but it can also be tough at times. Whether you have a newborn or you have been a parent or carer for a while, looking after a little one will always have its challenges and, for some of us, it may even impact on our mental health.

NHS Talking Therapies , in partnership with the Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber NHS Trust’s (RDaSH) Children’s Care Group, is working to raise awareness of parental mental health, plus the help and support available. Ultimately, we want to make sure every parent or carer in Doncaster has the tools, techniques and support they require to have good mental wellbeing.

While having a baby or a child can be stressful in general, if you struggle with your mental health persistently, it may be time to seek support from us.

Finding parenting tough?

We hear this a lot.

It is really understandable that you might experience difficult emotions as a parent, whether you have a newborn or an older child.

A lack of confidence, plus worrying, feeling tired, feeling low and big lifestyle changes might make it feel like you are unable to cope. Seeing influencers and celebrities – or even friends with kids – showing us the best bits on social media, at play groups or get togethers can give us false perceptions of what parenthood and raising a family is really like. While they may be showing us their spotless kitchens and toy-free floors, or how they have managed to fit into their pre-birth clothes, in reality, they are probably only showing us the good bits. And, you will have those moments too.

We want to help normalise the normal; they will also be dealing with mess, tantrums, nappies and sleepless nights …and may even be experiencing their own mental health battles.

If you are struggling, we are here to help you realise that it is okay to admit that. It is okay to ask for help. We are here to help you learn coping tools and techniques to reduce anxiety, worry or stress. We are here to support you and your mental health and wellbeing. We are here to help you feel like you again.

How do I know if I’m struggling with my mental health?

Mental health problems can manifest in a range of different ways. There are many signs and symptoms to look out for.

Common signs or symptoms you may experience if you are struggling with anxiety:

  • Feeling nervous, anxious or on edge most of the time
  • Not being able to stop or control worrying. For example, wondering if baby is okay, having worries about money or worrying whether you will be able to cope with being a parent.
  • Having trouble relaxing and being really restless.
  • Feeling afraid as if something awful is going to happen, for example, concerns that something bad will happen to your baby.
  • Struggling to concentrate
  • Physical changes such as; heart racing, sweating, nausea, dizzy, churning stomach.

Common signs or symptoms you may experience if you are struggling with depression:

  • Low mood, feeling generally down most of the time.
  • Lack of interest or pleasure in doing things.
  • Sleep difficulties (not related to looking after a newborn).
  • Feeing worthless, for example, feeling like you are not a good enough parent or that you are not doing a good enough job.
  • Struggling to concentrate.
  • Feeling more irritable and not wanting to be with other people.

Experiencing any of the above symptoms is natural when pregnant or becoming a new parent. It is a huge life change. Being a parent of older children is equally as tough; there can be some difficult and trying circumstances to navigate as a mum or dad. However, if you notice these symptoms are persistent and impacting on your day to day life, NHS Doncaster Talking Therapies is here to help you.

It is really important that you seek professional support as soon as possible if you think you are depressed, as your symptoms can have a significant impact on you, your partner, your child and your family.

New mums

Hormonal changes can cause new mums or mums-to-be to feel the baby blues. A few days after birth, it is common to feel many of the below signs and symptoms:

  • Brief period of feeling tearful and emotional after giving birth.
  • Typically lasts a few days following birth.
  • Often as a result of hormonal changes and a lack of sleep.
  • Generally manageable with no severe impact on day-to-day functioning.

However, if these symptoms worsen or persist, it is important to reach out for support. It could be a sign that you are suffering from postnatal depression.

Symptoms of postnatal depression:

  • Deeper and longer lasting depression
  • Usually develops around 6 to 12 weeks after giving birth
  • More enduring low mood that impacts on day-to-day functioning

Postnatal depression is really common, affecting around 1 in 10 new mums within a year of giving birth. It’s incredibly important you get help and support from a professional if you think you may be suffering with it.

Other mental health conditions and symptoms that can occur during pregnancy can include:

  • OCD (Obsessive compulsive disorder)
  • PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder)
  • Postpartum psychosis (This is a rare condition. Please contact Doncaster’s Crisis Team immediately on 0800 804 8999 if you notice rapidly changing moods, hallucinations, thoughts or beliefs that are unlikely to be true, feelings of suspicion or fear or behaviour that is out of character.)

Please get in touch with NHS Doncaster Talking Therapies if you think you are suffering from depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD or phobia, or speak to your Health Visitor.


Dads are sometimes overlooked when it comes to mental health as a parent, but we know dads can find it tough and struggle with their mental health too. Men can also suffer from postnatal depression. Research has found that up to 1 in 10 new fathers become depressed after having a baby.


Some men may experience:

  • feelings of failure, confusion, being inadequate or not doing enough
  • worries about things like money or setting better examples
  • stress
  • burn out

It is important that Dads also know it is natural to feel stressed and anxious becoming a new parent, and while you support your partner through pregnancy, childbirth and parenting. NHS Doncaster Talking Therapies is here to help dads who may be feeling anxious or depressed too.

It is also important to understand that our mental health can suffer at any time, sometimes for no particular reason at all, at any point in our lives. Mental health does not discriminate either – it can affect anyone; grandparents, aunties, uncles, friends.

Getting the help and support you need

We are here to help support you with your mental health and wellbeing. Depending on whether you are pregnant, have recently given birth or if your child is older will depend on the best service for you to access for support and treatment.

If you are struggling with your mental health, you can get treatment with NHS Doncaster Talking Therapies. We are a service for anyone over the age of 18, regardless of whether you have children or not.

We can:

  • Provide talking therapies for depression, anxiety and PTSD, plus many other common mental health problems.
  • Offer treatment face to face, over the phone, via video call or through our typed text messaging platform.
  • Provide one to one treatment or group sessions.

To access NHS Doncaster Talking Therapies please complete our self-referral form on this website, or call 03000 211 556.

You must be over 18, registered with a local GP and not currently accessing mental health support elsewhere.

If you are planning to have a baby, are already pregnant or have recently given birth you can also get help from your assigned Health Visitor. You can call your Health Visitor Team on 0300 021 8997.

You can also ask your GP for support.

Tips for parents

If you or your partner feel stressed, depressed or anxious, here are some tips to help you:

  • Talk to someone you trust (partner, family, friends). Staying connected is really important, especially talking to people who have been through it and can reassure you what you are feeling is common.
  • Be self-compassionate. Being a parent is hard work, and becoming a new parent is a huge life change. Being kind to yourself is really important – treat yourself how you would treat others in this situation.
  • Exercise, when you can.
  • Take time out to relax. A bath, listening to music or watching your favourite TV show are a few ideas to get you started.
  • Eat well.
  • Avoid alcohol and smoking.
  • Avoid caffeine.
  • Ask questions and find out facts and your options. The fear of the unknown and uncertainty can cause anxiety symptoms. Learning as much about pregnancy, birth and being a parent can help us prepare and feel more confident.


There have always been myths around mental health and, as a result, parents may have concerns about how their mental health or getting support for it will impact their family. Here are a couple of myths that we have busted for you:

  • Does struggling with my mental health make me a bad parent?
    Absolutely not. Struggling with mental health does not mean you are a bad parent. It is really common. Getting support for your mental health when you need it will positively benefit you and your family.
  • If I admit I need support with my mental health or get the help I need, will my children be taken away from me?
    No. Getting help will not see you have your kids taken away from you. Getting mental health support and getting better will actually, ultimately, benefit your children. Taking this step to support your wellbeing is really positive.
  • Will I be waiting for a long time to get talking therapies?
    If you are pregnant or have a newborn, you will go to the top of our waiting list.
  • Will postnatal or antenatal depression pass, like the baby blues?
    No. If left untreated, postnatal and antenatal depression can become a long-term problem. The baby blues tend to disappear after a couple of days.
  • Can men suffer from postnatal depression? Or is it just women?
    Yes, postnatal depression affects men too. Postnatal depression is caused by many factors – not just hormonal changes. Up to 1 in 10 new dads become depressed after having a baby.

Parent feedback

If you are still considering whether or not to reach out to us for support, take a read of the feedback below from other parents who were once struggling with their mental health, who  accessed our services.

“Just being able to talk to [someone] made a massive difference. It has enabled me to realise that I am doing a much better job as a mum than I thought”.

“I cannot put into words how vital this service is.”

“It has helped me get back into work and the gym to help my mental wellbeing.”

“Without this support I would not be where I am now.”