SOCIAL media could be to blame for a delay by parents asking for help, a Winchester district family organisation has said.

Home-Start Winchester and Districts says that on average parents in Winchester struggle for six months before reaching out for support, with 60 per cent of parents saying they feel pressure from social media to be the ‘perfect parent’.

New research by the network revealed that of those polled, 51 per cent said that fears of being seen as a bad parent would hold mums and dads back in asking for help.

The charity are highlighting the unrealistic expectations put on parents by social media, which they have dubbed ‘Insta-parenting’.

Liz Stannard, co-ordinator of Home-Start Winchester, said: “Parenting has never been easy but with the added pressures of social media, our bad days and difficult times can seem magnified compared with the seemingly perfect families we see online. Home-Start offer non-judgemental, compassionate and confidential help and support. We start in the home, with an approach as individual as the people we’re helping. A child’s earliest years are irreplaceable, and because childhood can’t wait, we’re there for parents when they need us most”.

According to the charity, the research also shows that 95 per cent of respondents believe parents who are struggling would delay in asking for help, and local Home-Start branches say that on average parents struggle for more than seven months before reaching out for support.

The impacts caused by waiting to talk can negatively impact parents’ mental health (33 per cent), cause feelings of isolation for families (11 per cent), and, worst of all from the charity’s and respondents’ perspective, cause children to miss out (49 per cent).

Anne, a mum supported by Home-Start Winchester and Districts, said: “Graham, our volunteer, has been wonderful. It made such a difference knowing that he would be arriving, that we would be able to get out of the house and that I would have adult company and help with the children.”

According to parents, the most valued ways Home-Start work with families are offering company, a listening ear and shoulder to cry on, the predictability of the weekly visits, and giving them a break.

Jessica, a volunteer for Home-Start, added: “I’m a single parent and have been since I was in my early 20s. I had a really challenging time myself and after coming out the other end I really wanted to do what I could to support other families who were struggling and help them see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. That parent-to-parent advice works so well at helping families get through those challenging times and thrive.”