Think child, think parent, think family: a guide to parental mental health and child welfare
Introduction: Characteristics of a successful service
The characteristics or indicators of success outlined below are drawn from the requirements of law and policy, along with messages from research and practice.
We have included this section as it gives an overview of what this guide is striving to achieve. It also provides broad outcome measures that can be used to assess impact locally and in evaluating the impact of the guidance overall.
A successful service will:
- promote resilience and the wellbeing of all family members now and in the future
- offer appropriate support to avoid crises and also manage them appropriately should they arise
- secure child safety.
A high-quality service that incorporates a 'think child, think parent, think family' model is one that:
- respects individuals' wishes and needs and their role and responsibilities in a family
- incorporates a 'strengths and resilience-led' perspective, believing that change can be possible – even in unpromising conditions – and that it may start in simple ways
- intervenes early to avoid crises, stops them soon after they start and continues to provide support once the crisis has been resolved
- is built upon
- - a thorough understanding of the developmental needs of children
- - the capacities of parents (or caregivers) to respond appropriately to these needs
- - the impact of wider family and environmental factors on parenting capacity
- - the combined impact of parental mental health problems and environmental factors on children
- - impact of parenting on a parent's mental health
- incorporates a public health perspective to address the potential impact of parental mental health problems on the child over time and across generations
- supports the empowerment of people who use services through sharing information and knowledge and ensuring their involvement in all stages of the planning and delivery of their care
- respects the right of the child to maintain direct contact with both parents, except if this is contrary to the child's best interests (and limited by a contact order).
To achieve this, a cross-agency response will need to (32):
- draw upon an established knowledge base which integrates research evidence and practitioner and user expertise
- promote holistic assessment with a genuine focus on prevention and promoting the health and wellbeing of all family members
- include assessment and analysis of risk to health and wellbeing that investigates opportunities and obstacles for the present and the future
- ensure continued assessment of the impact of parental mental health on the family and if children are separated from their parents
- consider the timing and timeliness of interventions when prioritising services
- be flexible enough to deal with complexity and facilitate more cross-agency working for the benefit of parents and children
- strive to make services accessible, acceptable, effective and accountable to parents with mental health problems and their children.