Parental Mental Ill Health


All adults have a one in four chance of experiencing a period of mental illness in their lifetime. Parents constitute a substantial proportion of mental health users. Being a parent with mental illness is especially challenging. Children in these families are at greater risk of a range of mental health problems and adverse life experiences. Working directly with mental health users as parents and their children can have an immediate impact on the parents’ recovery process which safeguards the child.
The Family Model as a conceptual framework identifies that there are risks, stressors and vulnerability factors increasing the likelihood of a poor outcome, as well as strengths, resources and protective factors that enable families to overcome adversity. Risk and protective factors interact with parental mental illness, child development and mental health, parenting and the parent-child relationship in a bidirectional manner. Over time, the complexity and multi-directionality become more complex as the child’s behaviour impacts on the parent’s mental health, the parent’s mental health impacts on his or her parenting and the parent’s mental state and style of parenting affect the child’s behaviour.
This one day course will focus on how to use the Family Model effectively in working with families as a reflective tool as part of the safeguarding process, but also as a tool to facilitate parental motivation. We will also focus on how to communicate with children and young carers effectively in a way that they will find supportive. ‘Think Family, Think Child, Think Parent‘is at the core whilst working with parental mental health and safeguarding children and young people.

  • To consider the impact of mental illness within the family as part of the referral/assessment process
  • To develop an awareness of the experiences and needs of children and young people who live with adults with mental health problems
  • To develop knowledge and skills in how to work with the Family Model as a central tool
  • To develop specific skills in communicating with children and young people about their experiences of living with mental health problems.
  • To develop skills in supporting the adult in their parenting role
  • To increase knowledge of good practice such as outlined in key government policies and research initiatives such as Crossing Bridges, Patients as Parents, Research in Practice, SCIE etc
  • To reflect on interagency working and how to strengthen these links
Learning Outcomes
  • Considered values and assumptions in relation to working with parents where mental illness is a central feature
  • Developed a deeper understanding of the nature of mental illness, diagnosis and current thinking in mental health in relation to the importance of families in the recovery process
  • Gained knowledge to key aspects in research around parental mental health and the impact on parenting ability
  • Developed a working understanding of the Family Model as a central tool to think about the family within a systemic framework
  • Gained an understanding of how children experience parental mental health and their needs
  • Developed skills in how to engage the parent in a framework that enhances parental responsibility and recovery
  • Developed skills in how to communicate with children about the parent’s mental health that will strengthen resilience and recognise their voices as central
  • Teaching methods include: power-point presentations, DVD material as developed by the Royal College of Psychiatry, case studies and practising using  key tools in small groups.

To download the course outline please click here.


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