Parental mental health and child welfare – a young person’s story

What is the video about?

Of the 175,000 young carers identified in the 2001 census, 29 per cent – or just over 50,000 – were estimated to care for a family member with mental health problems (Dearden and Becker 2004). Not all children living with a parent with mental health problems will be carers but, for those that are, they can be involved in undertaking a variety of tasks including: advocacy, help with correspondence and bills, liaising with professionals, administering medicines, emotional support and domestic tasks. This film is about 18-year-old Cait who has been caring for her Mum since she was 7 years old. The film explores the importance of involving and assessing the needs of all family members from the outset. It describes Cait’s own experience of getting the support she needed and how agencies in Liverpool are working together to improve services for parents with mental health problems and their children.

Messages for practice

  1. Staff should seek the parent’s permission and as far as possible involve children and young carers in the parent’s assessment, care plan and review processes.
  2. In a successful service all families are routinely screened to identify which adults with mental health problems are also parents in adult services, and which parents in children’s services have mental health problems. This should include the identification of young carer/carers who can then be assessed in their own right.
  3. Given the parent’s permission, staff should make contact with all other relevant agencies to assess, plan and deliver a coordinated care package for the whole family.
  4. It is imperative that families with a parent with a mental health problem are routinely signposted or referred to other appropriate services including services for young carers.
  5. Staff should develop supportive relationships with adults who use services to allay people’s fears and reduce the stigma surrounding services.
  6. Take a multi-agency approach, with senior level commitment to implement a think family strategy.

Who will find this useful?

Staff in mental health and children’s services from all sectors. It is also relevant for those delivering pre-and post-qualifying education and training to health and social care staff and others responsible for workforce development. Service users and their carers and families may also find it useful.