February eNews 2017

In this edition:

 

Working with GPs to promote opportunities to better meet the needs of families and children where a parent has a mental illness

GPs are often the first point of contact for a person seeking help for a mental health condition. From April 2013 to March 2014 the Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health (BEACH) estimated that 13% of GP appointments were mental-health related. This translates to 17 million mental health related GP consultations each year in Australia.

Research has demonstrated that taking a ‘family focus’ approach can help a parent’s recovery from a mental illness, support a child’s social and emotional wellbeing and enhance the family’s capacity to manage the challenges that mental illness can bring.

Over the past 12 months, the COPMI national initiative has continued to work in partnership with the Royal Australian College of General Practice (RACGP), practicing GPs, and parents and children with lived experience to explore opportunities within primary health care settings to better meet the needs of families and children where a parent has a mental illness.

In 2016 the COPMI national initiative completed a scoping project with GPs across Australia to identify existing practices and policies in relation to working with parents who have a mental illness and their dependent children.

Additional scoping activities were undertaken to gain a better understanding of the support children and families receive in general practice when a parent presents with a mental illness and identifying further opportunities. This included literature reviews, interviews and focus groups with lived experience representatives.

Outcomes

Identifying parental mental illness in general practice

Adaptations to the Adult and Child Mental Health Treatment Plan templates have been made and updated versions are now available on the GPMHSC website.

  • The Adult Mental Health Treatment Plan template now includes the question ’Is this person a parent of a child 0-18 years?’ The template now features the added component of assessing the child and parenting need, ‘Record the name and date of birth of any children under 0-18 years’, ‘The impact of mental health difficulties on their parenting, the parent-child relationship, and their children’.
  • The Child Mental Health Treatment Plan template now includes the prompt ’Has the parent been considered for a Mental Health Treatment Plan?’.

The updates to the Mental Health Treatment Plan templates were communicated through the RACGP and GPMHSC networks, the Mental Health Professionals Network and the COPMI national initiative’s communication strategies.

Scoping activities were undertaken in order to better understand and strengthen practices to support the needs of children and families

This included:

  • Interviews with parents who have a lived experience of mental illness to explore their experiences in GP consultations, their journey through primary health care services and recommendations to support parenting and children’s needs when a parent accesses support for a mental health issue.
  • A focus group with young people regarding their contact with GPs and/or primary health care services, in the context of either ‘supporting’ and/or being present in a consultation with a parent, or in relation to their own help-seeking from a GP when a parent experiences a mental illness.
  • Literature reviews of national and international evidence regarding:
    • interventions that have been applied in primary health care settings to address the needs of children of parents with a mental illness
    • assessments and interventions that incorporate family and child needs when working with parents with a mental illness.

Both parents and young people have described how parenting and children’s needs have been ‘overlooked’ by GPs, even when the child has been present during the consultation. The parents and young people interviewed for this project stated they wanted to talk to their GP about the impact of the mental illness on all of the family members however, they relied on the GP to initiate this conversation.

The adaptations to the Mental Health Treatment Plans provide an opportunity for GPs to initiate conversations about parenting and child and family needs in the context of parental mental illness.

Click here to access the Adult and Child Mental Health Treatment Plan templates.

 

New evidence-based ‘GEMS’ research summary

The latest ‘GEMS’ (Gateway to Evidence that MatterS) publication has just been released: Engaging children, who have a parent with a mental illness, into peer support programs: What works?

It is a short, two-page summary of evidence regarding engaging children, who have a parent with a mental illness, into peer support programs.

Children, who have a parent with a mental illness, have a higher risk of acquiring a mental illness. Peer support programs, when provided in a holistic family manner, can offer support and information to children and their families, however it can be difficult to engage parents and children into these programs.

 

COPMI videos for young people – strengthening children’s understanding of their parents’ mental illness

Have you seen the COPMI national initiative’s suite of video material for young people?

Aimed at young people aged 10 years and over, the objective of the videos is to strengthen children’s understanding of their parents’ mental illness and the symptoms parents may experience.

Produced alongside young people with a lived experience of their parents’ mental illness and mental health professionals, the short, engaging clips are presented by young people and deliver information about mental illness in a clear and easily relatable manner.

The topics include ‘What is a mental illness?’, ‘Will my parent get better?’ and address the importance of young people taking care of their own wellbeing, along with a description of six different diagnoses or symptoms.

Although the videos are aimed at young people, they can also be used by parents who may wish to start a conversation with their children about mental illness. The videos can also be used in school environments and by professionals who work with children and families. The ‘About mental illness’ video needs to be viewed first as it introduces the series.

Click here to access the ‘About mental illness’ videos.