eNews July 2015

In this edition


New videos for young people help them understand their parents’ mental illness

New videos clips for young people have been launched by the COPMI national initiative, to help young people aged ten years and above. The short clips aims to strengthen childrens’ understanding of their parent’s mental illness and how symptoms can affect their parents’ behaviour. 

COPMI Director Brad Morgan says, ‘These videos are for a large group of children and families where a parent has a mental illness. Evidence indicates that helping children and young people understand what they experience in relation to their parents mental illness can be of great benefit. These videos are a unique and much needed resource that can help.’  

Twenty-year-old Heather, who has a father diagnosed with bipolar disorder, agrees: ‘When I was searching for information about my parent’s mental illness, there wasn’t much available…I already felt isolated from my friends, and not being able to source reliable information compounded this feeling. On the odd occasion that I found videos about my parent’s mental illness, I couldn’t understand the jargon that was being used, which exacerbated my confusion. The COPMI videos change this.’ Heather said.  

About video content

The videos deliver accurate information about mental illness in short, engaging clips that are each under six minutes long. They are presented by young people that children can relate to and in simple language. COPMI recommends that children from ten years and above can benefit from them.

The first videos address common questions, such as ‘what is a mental illness?’ and ‘will my parent get better?’ and address the importance of taking care of your own wellbeing. The subsequent videos provide a description of six different diagnoses or symptoms. They aim to help young people to understand the behaviour that they notice or experience in relation to their parents’ illness. The videos were produced alongside young people with a lived experience of their parents’ mental illness and mental health professionals. They can either be viewed in isolation, or as a series.

Ann, a mother living with mental illness, has praised the resources: ‘I think that these videos can really help to lift the ‘fog’ of confusion around mental illness for young people. If there was something like this around for my kids when I was unwell it would have helped to lift the stigma around it and given them some hope about things getting better in the future. I think other parents will really benefit from sharing the clips with their kids, or even watching them together and using them to start a conversation about it all.’

This is a point that Rose Cuff, Victorian Coordinator of Families where a Parent has a Mental Illness (FaPMI), considers pivotal: ‘Conversations with children about their parents’ mental illness are important. They help children understand the family situation and what they are experiencing. COPMI’s new youth videos are a unique and vital addition to what’s available that can help young people and their families in this situation.’  

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, to school environments and professionals who work with children and families. ‘Professionals, children and parents alike can benefit from the real clarity of information about different mental illnesses that includes critical key messages about recovery, self-care and communication.’ Rose Cuff says. ‘Everyone can benefit.’


Latest evidence-based research summary

This month’s ‘GEMS’ (Gateway to Evidence that Matters) publication has just been released. It is a short, two-page summary of evidence regarding resilience in children of parents with a mental illness.

Children with parents who experience mental illness can face specific developmental challenges and have a greater risk of emotional or behavioural problems, school difficulties and mental illness. Whilst there are gaps in research, evidence indicates there are opportunities to promote resilience through developing a shared understanding of the parents’ illness within the family, building supportive relationships and enhancing coping skills. This GEMS highlights things that parents, family members, teachers, health professionals and community services staff can do to promote resilience in these children.


Webinars and conference videos for professionals

The updated COPMI website features additional resources for professionals in the mental health and allied health areas.

Professionals can strengthen skills and increase their understanding of COPMI-related issues by reviewing a new page of webinars and conference videos. There’s no need to leave your seat, and you can move through the resources at your own pace.

Professionals who want to strengthen their skills in this area can read more about professional development resources that may be helpful.


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