SCIE media statement

Increasing support for parents with mental health problems

12 September 2011

Previously in mental health services we didn’t always ask services users questions about family and caring responsibilities. Now we are focusing on the whole family approach we are able to work together more collaboratively in meeting the needs of the family.

Carol Bernard, Director, Merseycare Liverpool

Professionals can find that working with families, where an adult carer is mentally ill, can be a complex and sometimes daunting task. Such cases often require many different professionals to come together to make an assessment and provide support for whole families as well as individuals. To provide better support for families, professionals need to understand some of the assumptions and myths associated with parental mental ill health, and the adverse impact of social stigma on their families.

The new Parental mental health and families eLearning package from the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) sets out all the key relationships, linkages and systems that need to be understood in parental mental health and families work. The materials look at the ways current organisational structures may not be working for families affected by parental mental ill health and what changes might be beneficial. In a unique move, the material asks the professionals to step into parents shoes to try and understand some of the difficulties and frustrations they may experience.

Amanda Edwards, Deputy Chief Executive says:

There are a number of myths around mental ill health which have long had an adverse effect on parents with mental health problems and their families. For every 34 people with a serious mental health difficulty only one is admitted to hospital. This illustrates that mental ill health is a condition which many families live with and one that can be effectively managed. SCIE’s project helps guide professionals on considering how the right support is provided at the right time from a number of different networks

SCIE’s Think child, think parent, think family project has been running for two years in six implementation sites nationwide. The project’s recently published interim evaluation emphasises the involvement of a range of professionals across children’s services, acute and community adult mental health services, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and the voluntary sector in making the whole family approach a reality. The evaluation identifies a selection of ‘quick wins’ (low or no cost actions) which can kick start changes, including improving communication through lunchtime learning sessions for all staff.

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Media contact

Steve Palmer | Press and Public Affairs Manager | Tel: 020 7766 7419 | Mob: 07739 458 192 | Email: media@scie.org.uk