UpTime App Interview with Mar De Carlo, founder of the International Parenting & Health Institute

Introduction to Your Journey:

Your story is incredibly inspiring, from your courageous decision as a single mother to prioritize attachment with your daughter to founding the International Parenting & Health Institute. Can you share with us what drove you to take that pivotal step in 2009 and how it shaped your journey in parenting and mental health advocacy? 

What drove me to take that pivotal step in 2009 was knowing that I was the only person whom my 1 1//2 year old daughter, at the time, felt most secure with after having undergone such a big move, with no family or close friends near by. Although I had a few options for work, including working with a high profile client, it would’ve required me be away from my daughter for the majority of the day my. When I discussed my situation  with family and friends over the phone, the all pretty much agreed, I should take one of the offers I was presented with and enroll my daughter in a daycare. However my intuition, being very strong, guided me to understand that there existed another option. So I spent a few days quieting down, meditating more often than usual and I received a clear answer. I then realized that the very struggles I was undergoing, was exactly how I was meant to help other families. I also realized that all the prior training and experience I had in the health and wellness space, as well as business management operations space, was preparing me for this very moment which allowed me to be with my daughter while launching my  international organization, the International Parenting & Health Institute (IPHI)  to positively impact many family’s lives.

Holistic Approach in Parenting and Mental Health:

You’ve been instrumental in reshaping the landscape of holistic coaching, particularly in parenting and mental health. How do you define holistic parenting, and why is it crucial, especially in today’s world?

Holistic parenting is an approach to parenting that considers the whole child—body, mind, and spirit—in nurturing their development and well-being. It involves recognizing the interconnectedness of various aspects of a child’s life, including physical health, emotional well-being, social connections, and spiritual development. This includes considering the interconnectedness off the relationship between parent and child and how the parent’s health, lifestyle and behavior impacts their child. Holistic parenting emphasizes a balanced and integrative approach to raising children, focusing on fostering their overall health, happiness, and growth. Overall, holistic parenting offers a comprehensive approach to raising children that addresses their holistic needs and fosters their overall health, happiness, and resilience in today’s complex world.  For example, in a world increasingly dominated by technology and screens, holistic parenting helps children maintain a balance between digital and real-world experiences, promoting healthy development and social connection.  With rising rates of mental health issues among children and adolescents, holistic parenting provides a comprehensive approach to addressing mental health concerns by focusing on prevention, early intervention, and support for emotional well-being. Holistic parenting encourages environmental awareness and sustainable living practices, fostering a sense of connection with the natural world and a commitment to protecting the planet for future generations. In a rapidly changing and uncertain world, holistic parenting helps children develop resilience, adaptability, and coping skills to navigate challenges and setbacks effectively.

Could you elaborate on how your approach integrates evidence-based practices and innovative methodologies to address mental health challenges in parenting? 

At the heart of my holistic coaching approach is the understanding that mental health is influenced by multiple factors, including physical, emotional, social, and spiritual well-being. Rather than focusing solely on symptom management or quick fixes, my holistic coaching approach takes a comprehensive and personalized approach to support parents and their children on their journey toward mental wellness. One of the key pillars of my holistic coaching approach is the integration of evidence-based practices. This includes drawing from established physical and psychological theories, practices and interventions that have been scientifically proven to be effective in promoting physical and mental health. From physical, cognitive-behavioral and motivational interviewing techniques to mindfulness practices incorporated into their lifestyle, I leverage a diverse toolkit of evidence-based strategies to help parents and their children navigate mental health challenges with confidence and resilience. In addition to evidence-based practices, my holistic coaching approach also embraces innovative methodologies that are tailored to the unique needs and preferences of each family. This may include experiential techniques such as dance therapy, drama therapy, laughter therapy, singing therapy, art therapy, nature-based interventions, or creative visualization exercises. By thinking outside the box and exploring new approaches, my holistic coaching approach empowers parents to discover creative solutions and tap into their innate strengths as caregivers. Central to my holistic coaching approach is the emphasis on collaboration and partnership between the coach and the parent. Rather than dictating solutions or offering one-size-fits-all advice, I work alongside parents as allies and guides, co-creating personalized strategies that honor the values and priorities of each family. Through open communication, active listening, and mutual respect, I empower parents to become agents of change in their own lives and the lives of their children.

Education and Empowerment:

Your dedication to education is evident through the programs you’ve established within IPHI, covering areas such as baby planning, sleep science, and holistic pregnancy coaching. How do these programs contribute to supporting parents’ mental health and well-being?

Overall, all of the programs that we offer through IPHI such as baby planning, holistic sleep coaching, pregnancy-postpartum coaching, and pre-postnatal nutrition coaching contribute to supporting parents’ mental health and well-being by addressing key factors such as sleep quality, emotional support, empowerment, community connection, nutritional intake, and hormonal balance, just to name a few. By integrating these holistic approaches into prenatal and postpartum care, parents can cultivate resilience, promote well-being, and thrive during the transformative journey of parenthood.

What role do you see education playing in breaking down stigmas surrounding mental health in parenting, and how can it empower individuals to seek help and support? 

Education plays a crucial role in breaking down stigmas surrounding mental health in parenting by increasing awareness, providing tools and resources, promoting understanding, and fostering empathy. For example: Education helps individuals recognize when they or their loved ones may be experiencing mental health challenges. Education reduces fear and shame associated with mental health concerns by dispelling myths and misconceptions and providing accurate information. Education empowers individuals to take control of their mental health by providing them with knowledge and resources to make informed decisions about their well-being. Armed with information about available support services, treatment options, and self-care strategies, individuals feel empowered to advocate for themselves and seek the help they need. Education equips parents with the knowledge and skills to support their children’s mental health and well-being effectively. By learning about child development, parenting strategies, and the importance of nurturing relationships, parents can create a supportive environment that promotes positive mental health outcomes for their children.

From Struggle to Empowerment:

Your journey from a challenging upbringing to becoming a global force in holistic education is remarkable. How have your personal experiences shaped your understanding of mental health challenges in parenting, and how do you translate that into support through IPHI’s initiatives?

My personal experiences shaped my understanding of mental health challenges in parenting in so many ways. I dealt with many stressors growing up.  Born and raised in a low-income home by my Hispanic immigrant family  in NYC, I lived in a one-bedroom apartment with my mom, dad, brother and sister and began working from a very young age as the oldest child in my family. Education became my opportunity to achieve what my parents could not. I graduated from college, working three jobs at once in order to pay for my student loans and make ends meet. One day I joined a gym and immediately knew group exercise, personal training and overall health and wellness is my passion. As a result,  I went through many training programs to earn many certifications (group exercise, personal training, pilates, yoga, wellness coaching, health and lifestyle coaching etc.) I successfully worked for many gyms, got promoted into management positions where I oversaw entire fitness and group exercise departments and eventually started my own business at the age of 29. At the age of 32, I found myself unexpectedly pregnant and at the age of 34 after arriving in Northern California, as a newly single first time mom, having left an abusive relationship, with no friends or family close by, I made the decision to turn down a high profile client so I could remain securing my attachment with my daughter. I had $20 left in my bank account and was about to begin living off of credit cards until I figured things out. The decision to turn down a high profile client led me to dig deep and find a way to provide for myself and my daughter without compromising my time away from her during such a challenging time. I faced doubts, fears and anxiety. I turned to meditation as meditation was one of the successful practices I used in the past when facing challenges and one that also worked well with my clients. I also repeated affirmations to  to myself that in every challenge there is an opportunity and on the third day, I received an answer with a clear vision which led me to write a book, create a certification program and start my organization, the International Parenting & Health Institute. I had realized that all the challenges I had gone through up until that point in time in my life and have overcome, was my calling. I am a survivor and have overcome the challenges of sexual abuse, domestic violence, financial hardship, anxiety, weight gain, loneliness, single motherhood and much more,. I am very passionate about providing education and practical effective tools to support other mothers overcome their challenges especially in under-resourced communities who are experiencing similar struggles to what I underwent. Having overcome countless challenges throughout my life; I use each as stepping stones to not only form the person I am today but to also help others overcome their challenges in the most practical, holistic, sustainable, inspirational and transformative way. This is why all the programs at IPHI are founded on providing tools, resources and support for parents and their children.

Could you share some insights into how resilience, education, and a commitment to uplifting others intersect in addressing mental health concerns within parenting?  

Resilience, education, and a commitment to uplifting others intersect in addressing mental health concerns within parenting in several meaningful ways: Parents who cultivate resilience within themselves serve as powerful role models for their children. By demonstrating resilience in the face of adversity, parents show their children that challenges can be overcome, and setbacks can be opportunities for growth. This modeling helps children develop their own resilience and coping skills, which are essential for maintaining good mental health. Parents can use opportunities to uplift others as teaching moments to instill empathy and compassion in their children. By involving children in acts of kindness, volunteering, and community service, parents help children develop a sense of empathy and compassion for others’ struggles. Educating oneself about mental health issues, parenting strategies, and resources empowers parents to support their children’s mental well-being effectively. When parents understand the signs and symptoms of common mental health concerns, they can intervene early, seek appropriate support, and provide their children with the tools they need to thrive. Education also helps parents challenge stigma surrounding mental health and promotes open, honest conversations about emotions and mental well-being within the family.

Inspiring Positive Change:

Your impact extends far beyond coaching, reaching diverse communities worldwide. How do you inspire parents to prioritize their mental health and well-being amidst the demands of parenting?

I would inspire parents to prioritize their mental health and well-being amidst the demands of parenting by normalizing the idea of self-care as an essential part of parenting. I would encourage parents to view self-care not as a luxury but as a necessity for their well-being and their ability to show up fully for their children. I would provide education and information about the importance of mental health in parenting. I would help parents understand how their mental well-being impacts their ability to parent effectively and support their children’s development. I would offer practical strategies and tips for integrating self-care into daily life as a parent. This could include setting aside dedicated time for self-care activities, delegating tasks to create more time for oneself, and seeking support from friends, family, or community resources. I would offer support and resources to help parents prioritize their mental health, such as access to therapy or counseling services, support groups, parenting classes, and online resources. Connect parents with community resources and organizations that specialize in supporting parental mental health. I would encourage parents to practice self-compassion and let go of perfectionism. Remind them that it’s okay to prioritize their own needs and take breaks when necessary, and that they don’t have to do it all alone. Lastly, I would celebrate parents’ efforts to prioritize their mental health and well-being, no matter how small. Acknowledge their progress and successes, and encourage them to continue making self-care a priority.

What advice would you give to parents who may be struggling with their mental health but are hesitant to seek support or resources?

 If you’re a parent struggling with your mental health but feel hesitant to seek support or resources, remember that you’re not alone in your struggles. Many parents experience challenges with their mental health, and seeking help is a courageous step toward healing and well-being. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. It takes courage to acknowledge when you’re struggling and reach out for support. You deserve to prioritize your mental health and well-being, just like you would prioritize your physical health.  If the idea of seeking support feels overwhelming, start by taking small steps. This could mean reaching out to a trusted friend or family member, exploring online resources, or scheduling an appointment with your healthcare provider to discuss your concerns. Educate yourself about the support and resources available to you. This might include therapy, counseling, support groups, helplines, self-help resources, or community organizations. Knowing your options can help you make informed decisions about the type of support that’s right for you. Prioritize self-care and self-compassion. Engage in activities that nourish your mind, body, and soul, such as exercise, mindfulness, hobbies, or spending time in nature. Remember that taking care of yourself is essential for your well-being and your ability to care for your children. Start conversations about mental health with trusted friends, family members, or healthcare providers. By opening up about your experiences, you may find support and validation from others who have similar struggles.

Future Vision and Impact:

Looking ahead, what are your aspirations for the future in terms of promoting mental health awareness and holistic well-being within parenting?

My aspirations for the future in terms of promoting mental health awareness and holistic well-being within parenting is to empower parents to model healthy self-care practices for their children, by prioritizing their own mental and emotional well-being, engaging in activities that promote relaxation, stress reduction, and personal growth. This can include mindfulness practices such as meditation, deep breathing, and grounding exercises to help parents and their children develop resilience and cope with stress. Parents and children then learn that self-care is an essential part of overall wellness and comes natural. I would aspire to promote balanced technology use within families by replacing screen time with outdoor activities and face-to-face interactions which would model healthy boundaries with technology to support parent’s and children’s mental and emotional well-being. I would inspire parents to create a home environment where open discussions are encouraged, providing an atmosphere of trust and acceptance where children feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and feelings without fear of judgment. This can help teach children emotional intelligence skills such as recognizing and managing emotions, empathizing with others, and communicating effectively, as well as help them understand that it’s normal to experience a range of emotions and that it’s okay to seek support when needed. In addition this can teach children that it’s okay to ask for help when they’re struggling and that seeking support from a therapist or counselor is a sign of strength, not weakness.


How do you envision the landscape of parenting and mental health evolving, and what role do you see yourself and IPHI playing in shaping that future? 

The landscape of parenting and mental health is likely to evolve through a growing recognition of the need for accessible mental health resources and support for parents. This includes the expansion of online resources, telehealth services, and community-based support programs that provide parents with tools, information, and guidance to navigate their mental health challenges effectively. As conversations about mental health become more normalized, there is a gradual destigmatization of mental health concerns within parenting. Parents are feeling more comfortable acknowledging and addressing their own mental health challenges and seeking support without fear of judgment or shame. At IPHI, we train all of our professionals to start and normalize these conversations, ask reflective questions and provide tools and resources for parents and children who struggle with mental health challenges, Our professionals are trained to also work closely and collaborate with qualified medical professionals when needed as mental health care for parents and children is evolving toward a more collaborative and holistic approach. There is an increasing recognition of the interconnectedness of physical, emotional, and social well-being, leading to greater collaboration between healthcare providers, mental health professionals, educators, and community organizations to support families comprehensively. Technology and digital health solutions are playing an increasingly prominent role in supporting parental mental health. This includes the development of mobile apps, online platforms, and virtual support groups that provide parents with convenient access to resources, tools, and peer support to manage their mental wellness effectively.


Author: Admin