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

Providing care

Problems with current practice

There are gaps between children's and adult services which do not reflect the extent to which children's and adults' needs are interlinked. There are few services that aim to support the whole family.

Parents and young people are not invited to participate in commissioning and service development initiatives in a meaningful way.

Professionals want to be able to work together to better meet the needs of a whole family. Strict entry criteria and service boundaries do not allow practitioners to collaborate or undertake joint working arrangements across service settings. There can also be disagreements as to where responsibilities lie. For example, adult mental health services tend not to arrange home support for children when a parent requires treatment, because children and family services are viewed as being responsible for all forms of child support.

There are also differences between the professionals' and parents' priorities for support. Professionals do not always prioritise more social interventions, but for parents, it may be more important to deal with any financial or housing problems first, as they are then better able to usefully engage with any therapeutic intervention.

When it comes to commissioning services, commissioners tend to focus on meeting the needs of individuals, rather than families. Services for families with a parent with a mental health problem are not being given a high priority because:

There are also limitations on the kinds of service that can be developed because of current funding arrangements:

In a successful service:

Recommendations for change

All staff need to implement interventions that will:

Organisations need to: