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Mental health services urged to "think family"

Family Minded, a report by leading children's charity Barnardo's, is launched today to raise awareness of the stigma that surrounds mental illness and the need for all services working with a mentally ill parent to "think family".

It is estimated that one in six adults in the UK experience some form of mental illness during their lifetime. Family Minded features moving stories based on interviews conducted with children and young people from Barnardo's projects across the UK who have a parent living with mental illness.

Recommendations highlighted within Family Minded include:

  • Offering age-appropriate information to help children understand and cope with their parent's mental illness.
  • Making child-friendly visiting facilities available when parents are treated as hospital in-patients.
  • Continuing to raise awareness of the stigma that can surround mental illness and understanding how this can prevent some families from asking for help.

Barnardo's Chief Executive Martin Narey said: "Barnardo's experience is that, at times, children go unnoticed when a parent needs mental health treatment. Promoting collaborative working between adults' mental health services and children's services is critical. Everyone needs to remember the patient's crucial importance as a parent."

Barnardo's Policy and Research lead on Mental Health Alison Webster said: "Children rely on their parents for emotional and practical support but when parents are affected by mental illness their role can become a struggle. Our proposals would mean that the whole family would get more of the support they need, during what can be a very difficult time."

Barnardo's currently works with an estimated 14,500 children and young people across the UK, whose parents have been affected by mental illness. These services range from offering specialist therapies to help the family cope; providing parents with drop-in counselling and liaising with schools to make staff aware of the pressures a child may be experiencing at home.


Why do you think children are being neglected when their parents are treated for mental illness? Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

"It's the whole carer's needs. These are seldom thought of at time of crisis and left to other members of family to support them, more as to be done to support these children. It's not just the stigma but the worry these kids face. More has to be done to ensure support/understanding/education to schools etc. Very interested in this area!" - Elaine Shiels, East Dun Chp