Calls to phone counselling service Parentline spiked by one third in the first weeks of lockdown measures.
Parentline ACT president Cathi Moore said the volume of calls was still up 25 per cent on normal levels as the coronavirus outbreak continued to exacerbate the anxieties of parents and carers.
"We've had people who have called us who had never called a service before," she said.
Ms Moore said people were calling for a variety of reasons, including single parents struggling to juggle work and parenting duties and parents of children with disabilities who have had their routines disrupted.
Shared custody arrangements had also been more difficult during the COVID-19 crisis, she said.
She said the uncertainty about when face-to-face schooling was to return had also contributed to parents' anxieties.
"In Canberra, there's a perception that we're all middle class and we're able to do it all," Ms Moore said.
"But nearly 30 per cent of adults are not fully functionally literate."
Parentline ACT Service coordinator and counsellor Joanna Szczudlowska said it was important for parents to look after themselves before they can support their children.
"It's of paramount importance to take care of themselves," she said.
"If they exhaust themselves they won't be able to support anyone in the family."
Anxiety, frustration, anger and irritability can be expected during these unusual times. Ms Szczudlowska said mindfulness was a useful tool to deescalate a situation.
"Take a few breaths to calm down and come back to this relationship with our children, to refocus, to validate how the child is feeling," she said.
Parentline ACT has continued to provide phone consultations, Zoom sessions and limited face-to-face sessions for parents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
About 15 volunteer counsellors are on the roster and have had to move to working from home.
Parentline received a $5000 grant via a group of philanthropic foundations - Hands Across Canberra, Chief Minister's Charitable Fund, The Snow Foundation and John James Foundation - to help respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Student counsellors from the University of Canberra have been able to complete their work placements through the service after other opportunities closed.
Ms Moore said Parentline would like to see a recovery task force instituted in Canberra to deal with the fallout from the pandemic, similar to what was implemented after the bushfires.
"I think people like to see some plan, even if it has to be changed.
"As a parent or carer you can say to yourself, 'I can see where this might go and what it might mean for my family.'"
She said it was important for the government to acknowledge the work of non-government community services during the pandemic.
- Contact Parentline ACT on 6287 3833 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.