A SUPPORT programme has joined forces with relationship counsellors to help couples in the Vale.

With the Covid pandemic putting strain on relationships, Plattform for Families and Aligned With Love teamed up to help couples deal with pressure and issues faced when caring for children with mental health problems.

Platfform for Families is a programme (funded by Cardiff and the Vale University Health Board) set up to support parents, carers, and siblings of a child facing mental health challenges in Cardiff or the Vale of Glamorgan.

They recently hosted a webinar for couples, joined by relationship counsellors, Matt Albiges and Rebeca Perea from Aligned with Love.

“We all want the best for our children and when they are hurting it causes pain, fear and a feeling of helplessness,” said Lynne Jones, Parent and Sibling Coach from Platfform for Familes.

“Supporting a child with mental health challenges can take its toll on family life raising levels of stress, anxiety, and feelings of isolation.

“The past year has presented us with numerous challenges as we have all had to learn to navigate our way through uncharted territory due to the Covid pandemic.

“In every area of our lives, we have had to adapt, create and instil new habits and new ways of being. There is no doubt that family relationships have suffered as a result.

“As parents and carers, we have had to become multi-tasking superheroes, juggling home schooling, home keeping and home working.

"While some parents have continued to work and manage the stresses of safe childcare and safe working environments, others have been furloughed and have to face many difficult challenges.”

Matt Albiges and Rebeca Perea offered advice on how to deal with difficulties in people's relationship brought on by the strains of dealing with children with mental health challenges.

Mr Albiges said: “When things aren’t working as we would like the effects can be severe. A 2005 survey found that participants with marital concerns had elevated levels of cortisol (a key stress hormone).

“Over time this can lead to weight gain and high blood pressure, disrupt sleep, negatively impact mood, reduce energy levels and contribute to diabetes.

“Changes to working and educational patterns during lockdowns have put many couples and families into closer proximity than ever before, highlighting and exacerbating existing issues as well as reducing opportunities to relieve the pressure.”

The pair offered guidance on relieving pressure in relationships, avoiding negative emotions affecting relationships, and stopping becoming stuck in a loop.

They have also developed a number of introductory workshops to help people evaluate their relationships and to see what sort of help would be useful to them,.

If you are in desperate need of help with dealing with the pressures of caring for a child with mental health problems then free help and support is available from Platfform for Families who also run a series of webinars, groups and one to one chat sessions.

If you also feel that you need help to maintain balance in your relationship, then Matt and Rebeca run a series of interactive group sessions or can individually tailor services to your needs with individual counselling sessions with one or either of them.