Families with mentally ill parents fear child protection procedures

Parents with mental illness and their children worry that
professionals will try to separate the family and implement child
protection procedures, research has revealed, writes
Katie Leason.

It shows how in some cases professionals and agencies
discriminate against parents with mental illness and their
children, who often care for them.

It also found that that worrying about their family being
separated can have a negative effect on the parents’ mental

The report reveals that children are rarely consulted about
their needs as carers, and that professionals from both adult and
children’s services consider living and caring for a mentally ill
parent to be “wholly negative and damaging in respect of childhood
experiences and psychosocial development”.

But the research suggests that, in some cases, caring for their
mother or father improves the child’s relationship with them
and can help the child feel included.

Jo Aldridge, principal researcher for the Young Carers Research
Group at Loughborough University, said that the study found that
the children often had close and loving relationships with the
parents they cared for.

“What children need is recognition for what they do and support
for families as opposed to support that is aimed only at adults as
patients,” she said.

The report, produced with mental health charity Rethink,
suggests that where a parent has a mental illness, adult and
children’s services need to work more closely together to support
the whole family.

It adds that professionals from adult mental health teams need
to recognise that their patients may also be parents and that
sometimes children may have caring responsibilities they do not


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