Parental mental illness: a review of barriers and issues for working with families and children
Article first published online: 15 JUN 2009
© 2009 Blackwell Publishing
Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing
Volume 16, Issue 9, pages 784–791, November 2009
How to Cite
MAYBERY, D. and REUPERT, A. (2009), Parental mental illness: a review of barriers and issues for working with families and children. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 16: 784–791. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2850.2009.01456.x
- Issue published online: 11 OCT 2009
- Article first published online: 15 JUN 2009
- Accepted for publication: 16 April 2009
- children of parents with a mental illness;
- parental mental illness;
- workforce capacity
For the psychiatric workforce to become family focused (particularly in relation to children) there is a clear need for family sensitive policies and procedures, managerial and organizational support and well-targeted and sustained workforce training. However, there are multiple barriers to the adult mental health workforce becoming family focused including:
- • Some adult mental health services do not identify consumers who are parents and subsequently do not respond to children, parenting and family needs.
- • Organizations often do not have adequate family and child friendly policies and procedures.
- • The adult mental health workforce lacks skills and knowledge about families, children and parenting.
- • The workforce needs to increase encouragement of consumers to include family members and dependent children in treatment of the ill parent including the provision of psycho-education.
Many consumers of psychiatric services are parents, making these services the opportunistic point for supporting consumers' children. While evidence suggests that assisting such children improves their mental health, there is a large gulf between what psychiatric services should (or could) provide and what they do in practice. This paper summarizes the constraining barriers and issues for the psychiatric workforce according to: (1) policy and management; (2) interagency collaboration; (3) worker attitude, skill and knowledge; (4) the parent-consumer; and (5) the consumer's family, including children. Potential solutions are presented, with a particular focus on the hierarchical nature of these barriers. Recommendations are made, including organizational audits to identify the most pressing barriers that impede family sensitive practice.