eNews December 2014

GP and mother with daughter

In this edition


GP and mother with daughter

Investigating how General Practitioners work with parents who experience mental illness

The Monash University & COPMI national initiative study 

General Practitioners (GPs) are often the first contact for a person seeking support for a mental health problem. It is estimated that 12.1% of all GP visits in one year are mental health-related encounters, and many of those seeking support are parents. 

The Monash University and the COPMI national initiative invite GPs to take part in a brief survey to identify current practices in relation to this topic. It is important to understand the process a GP follows when a person who is a parent presents for help with a mental health concern, and look for opportunities to inform future policy and practice guidelines.

General Practitioners – can you help?

The Family-Focused Mental Health Practice Questionnaire for GPs below is anonymous and confidential, and takes approximately 20 minutes to complete.

At the end of the questionnaire, GPs are invited to take part in an (optional) 30 minute telephone interview (for which participants will receive a $75 Coles/Myer gift voucher).

For more information 

Please contact Caroline Williamson at COPMI via williamsonc@copmi.net.au if you would like further information about this study. 

Child and family resilience and recovery – what we learned from you

Thank you for your feedback

In COPMI’s October eNews, we asked for help to learn more about family recovery, family resilience and child resilience. Thank you to the professionals and families who contributed to our surveys. In addition to the surveys, COPMI held three, two-day workshops on each of the topics with family members to explore the concepts.

Review of the information has revealed a number of interesting themes for COPMI to consider whilst developing resources on these topics.

Emerging themes

Key themes that were identified during focus groups and surveys included:

  • Family understanding Recognising that there is a process to achieve this. It starts by raising awareness, developing knowledge, and creating language that helps individuals to understand their experiences as a family. 
  • Talking about good mental health The importance of discussing what good mental health is what it means for the family.
  • Planning ahead Developing care plans for each member of the family, recognising that each individual has their own support needs.
  • Having family conversations  Creating a language that works for a family so they each know what is happening, negotiating their space and connections with others.
  • Modelling help seeking Demonstrating how to ask for help, so that children can see that it’s okay to seek support and are able to name what their needs are.
  • Creating opportunities for family connection By accumulating knowledge, sharing, using humour, having fun, building trust, establishing connections and relationships within families and within communities.

The next step in this project will be working with families to further refine feedback received and develop resources that can be made available for other families. 

Christmas and care plans

Planning helps families to deal with stress

Christmas can be a very stressful time of year for many people.

For some, there may be complex social interactions with family, financial pressures and the pressure to have a ‘magical’ festive season. For others, it may be a time of isolation and loneliness.

For parents experiencing mental health problems Christmas can be even more stressful.

Consider triggers to stress

Thinking about the triggers and stresses you may face in the upcoming festive season, can help you to prepare to manage them. What strengths do you have that you can draw on to help you cope? Who could you turn to for extra support if you need it? Who should you avoid or limit contact with if they add too much stress to your life?

It may also be a good idea to develop a care plan for your family about what to do in a mental health crisis. Care plans can help to alleviate some anxieties and fears you may be experiencing and can help children to feel reassured as well.

Care plans provide a reassuring backup plan

Care plans can be developed by families themselves, or with the support of a mental health professional. Different family members may have different worries, so it can be helpful to sit down and write it together.

COPMI has created these templates to help you develop your own plans. You may want to complete these, or use them as a guide.

• Family Care Plan (for the whole family) • Care Plan for Kids and Young People (for parents to help complete with young people) • Baby Care Plan (for parents to complete on wishes for their baby)

Read more about developing a care plan on the COPMI website.

Happy festive season!

This is the COPMI national initiative’s last eNews edition for 2014.

The COPMI staff would like to thank you for your ongoing interest in the work we do to promote better mental health outcomes for children living with parental mental illness. We would also like to wish you a happy and safe festive season!

Office closure dates

Note: The COPMI office will be closed from midday (SA time) Wednesday 24 December to 9am (SA time) Friday 2 January 2015 (inclusive).

COPMI provides information and resources to the community but does not provide clinical advice or services. If you are seeking help or need urgent assistance (from within Australia) during the festive season, please call:

  • Lifeline on 13 11 14 (free from mobiles)
  • Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 (free call)
  • Mensline Australia on 1300 78 99 78 (local call)
  • In an emergency call ‘000’ (free call)

We look forward to resuming monthly eNews updates from mid-January 2015.

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