Think child, think parent, think family: a guide to parental mental health and child welfare

Putting it into practice - what the sites did: England

The key areas focused on in the English sites can be grouped into a number of broad categories.

Awareness raising

All sites worked to raise awareness of the ‘Think child, think parent, think family’ agenda and project among the wider staff group and among management. They did so in a variety of ways:

Making strategic links

The English sites in particular worked to link the implementation of the guide to other policies, such as:

The steering groups in the sites also made contact with other similar initiatives in their areas such as Family Improvement Partnerships.

Workforce development

Many sites took specific actions to develop staff knowledge and skills. These were more in-depth than the awareness-raising activities listed above, providing a theoretical basis for whole-family working, and how this may affect their practice.
Some sites amended existing training opportunities, such as staff inductions or safeguarding training, to ensure that they included Think Family principles.

The sites also commissioned additional training activities. One site ran a theatre-based training session for around 100 staff from various agencies about the principles of ‘Think child, think parent, think family’. See Practice example 15. Scenarios illustrating some of the challenges involved in working with families affected by parental mental ill health were dramatised by a professional theatre group, forming the basis of the training and discussion. In another site, Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) staff were given training using the Family Partnership Model. See Practice example 16. A third site commissioned a local voluntary organisation to provide introductory Think Family training. See Practice example 15.

Working with families

Direct family work was relatively infrequent, but was developed in some sites. A therapeutic family play group ran in one site. See Practice example 11. In others, family therapists worked in children’s centres. See Practice example 10.

Reviewing current tools and ways of working

A number of sites reviewed their existing ways of working to assess the extent to which they complied with the guide and to see what changes needed to be made. This included: