What can you do?

Children and young people can often cope well with all sorts of life’s upsets if they have a better understanding of what is happening and why.

Messages for children to hear:
‘It’s not your fault that your parent is ill.  You didn’t cause the illness’
‘It is ok to talk about mental illness’

So what works?

Assessments which identify and consider:

  • the inter-related needs of the family
  • individual and family strengths
  • the intrinsic and extrinsic protective, stress and risk factors impacting on the family
  • how parenting tasks are affected by the mental health issues
  • the impact on the parent-child relationship

Consider undertaking a joint assessment with colleagues from adult’s or children’s services. When children do better so will parents and when parents do better so will children.

Support plans which:

  • Increase every family member’s understanding of the mental health issues.
    These resources can help to inform young people:
    Minds Myths and Me
    Videos about parental mental illness for young people  (The Royal College of Psychiatrists)
    It’s About You Too’ and ‘Need to Know’  (Support in Mind Scotland)
    Mental Illness in Your Family (Young Minds)
  • Promote family cohesion and reduce the anxieties of the child by supporting and encouraging conversation between parents and children about mental illness.
    Try these resources:
    Making Time to Talk Advice for parents with mental illness (Support in Mind Scotland)
    Safe, Sorted and Supported
    Advice on telling children about a parent’s dementia (Young Dementia UK)
  • Help families to develop a story about their circumstances which the children can use with their peers
  • Encourage families to inform their children’s schools. Most schools in Gloucestershire now have a Young Carer Lead who will understand the issues and can arrange appropriate support for the child
  • Enable children and young people to connect with others in similar circumstances
    Refer to Gloucestershire Young Carers.
  • Introduce the children to fictional stories about families impacted by mental ill health. You will find some examples on our Book List

Learn More

SCIE eLearning: Parental mental health and families

Young Minds: Parental Mental Health and its Impact on Children and Young People

COPMI: Promoting better outcomes for children and families where a parent experiences mental illness: an Australian website with a wealth of information for children and families impacted by parental mental illness and for health and social care professionals

‘I do wish to put it in writing how much I valued your professional yet totally personal approach to us.  Both myself and my child were in need of help whilst dad was away in hospital and you came and gave us a way through with your kindness and genuine warmth, coupled with your experience and valuable knowledge.’