Reasearch summaries on children and parents with mental illness


Title: The experiences of children living with and caring for parents with mental illness.

Reference: Child Abuse Review, March-April 2006, pp.79-88.

Abstract: This research, conducted by members of the Young Carers Research Group at Loughborough University, provides a three-way perspective on the experiences and needs of children who are living with and caring for parents with severe and enduring mental illness. The views of children, parents and key workers were sought in order to provide deeper insight into the needs of families and the nature of interfamilial relationships, as well as the relationships between service users and providers. Child protection and medical research has long proposed a link between parental mental illness and the risk to children of abuse, neglect and developmental delay. The inevitability of risk associations is challenged by the research described here and outcomes for children of caring for parents with mental illness are discussed not simply in terms of risk to children but more broadly in respect of, for example, positive parent-child relationships.


Title: Keeping the family in mind: a briefing on young carers whose parents have mental health problems

Reference: Ilford: Barnardo’s, 2005. 16p.

Abstract: In the UK today, one in six adults is living with a mental health problem, most commonly anxiety or depression. Many of these adults are also parents whose children are living at home, in fact mental health problems are more common in adults who have dependent children, and lone parents are three times more likely than other parents to experience mental distress. The emotional wellbeing of parents can have a significant impact on children. In some families, parental distress can lead to children taking on responsibilities that would usually belong to adult family members: they become young carers.


Title: Children caring for parents with mental illness: perspectives of young carers, parents and professionals

Reference: Bristol: Policy Press, 2003. 204p.,bibliog.

Abstract: This book presents the perspectives of children (young carers), their parents and the key professionals in contact with them. The book reviews existing medical, social, child protection and young carers literatures on parental mental illness and consequences for children. It also provides a chronology and guide to relevant law and policy affecting young carers and parents with severe mental illness and makes concrete recommendations and suggestions for improving policy and professional practice.


Title: Children caring for parents with severe and enduring mental illness

Reference: Loughborough: Loughborough University. Centre for Child and Family Research, 2002. 4p.

Abstract: Reports on the findings of a two year study by the Young Carers Research Group (in partnership with Rethink, formerly National Schizophrenia Fellowship) which looks at the experiences and needs of children who care for parents with mental illness, their caring and filial relationships and the nature of professional interventions in these families. Parents with mental illness, their children/young carers and families as a whole will be supported more effectively when the division between adult and children’s services is successfully addressed and reconciled. This involves addressing the current “patient led” approach, particularly among statutory professionals from mental health services, that leads to adults with mental illness gaining access to a range of inputs from multi disciplinary teams but their children being excluded (through professional lack of awareness, poor practice, limited resources etc.) from statutory support and consultation.

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