Children Caring for Parents with Mental Illness

By Jo Aldridge and Saul Becker.
Policy Press
ISBN 1 86134 400 7
£50 (hardback)
ISBN 1 86134 399 X,
£19.99 (paperback)

The experiences of children whose parents have mental health
problems are looked at afresh. The particular issues for children
who are also significant carers are explored in a study of 40

With the rise in the proportion of lone-parent families, the
task of caring often falls to the child rather than to the partner.
Welfare provision has been slow to react to this changing
demography and is likely to categorise children of such parents as
at risk of abuse and neglect. This may be far from the case, and
the authors caution against hasty judgement.

Although there is some evidence of parenting deficit, in
practice this can be difficult for professionals to determine. Many
families cope well, depending on variables that need to be
carefully evaluated. Aldridge and Becker propose that a systemic
approach for mapping the experience and needs of the young carer
should be followed.

This is essential reading for those working with parents who
have mental health problems or with young carers. The authors
provide a comprehensive review of research as well as an excellent
appendix on relevant legislation.

Dinah Morley is deputy director,

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