eNews May 2013

In this edition


Sharing the latest prevention learnings from the US

World-leading child mental health intervention expert, Dr. William Beardslee is in Australia later this month to participate in a series of workshops sharing the latest research and effective preventative interventions for children of parents with a mental illness.

About Dr Beardslee

Dr. Beardslee currently directs the Preventive Intervention Project at Judge Baker Children’s Center and also the Prevention of Depression Study in the US. He has served as the Academic Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Children’s Hospital Boston and is the Gardner-Monks Professor of Child Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Beardslee’s long-standing research interest has centered on the development of children who are at risk due to severe parental mental illness and focuses on the ways in which self-understanding helps individuals cope with adversity. He is currently directing a long-range study at Judge Baker Children’s Center funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) that explores the effects of clinician-facilitated, family-based preventive intervention. This research is designed to gauge the impact of direct intervention and measure its ability to enhance resilience and family understanding for children of parents with affective disorder.

COPMI’s Family Focus intervention was modelled on a program developed by the Harvard-based Beardslee, and COPMI Director, Bradley Morgan, will be co-presenting with him throughout his week-long stay, along with Dr. Nick Kowalenko, Dr. Mary Jessop and Dr. Hiran Thabrew.

Event details:

Brisbane, QLD

24 May, Full-day workshop
“Preventive Interventions for Children of Parents with a Mental Illness: Putting Evidence into Practice”
Where: The Royal Children’s Hospital, Herston QLD
Presenters: Dr. Nick Kowalenko, Dr. Mary Jessop, Prof. William Beardslee and Brad Morgan

Hear from leading Psychiatrists about the most recent international evidence regarding risk and resilience in children of parents with a mental illness (COPMI) and become familiar with the range of evidence-based interventions for COPMI across different developmental stages.
More information and registration details.

Sydney, NSW

RANZCP Congress 2013, NSW

Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, Darling Drive, Sydney

26 May, 9.30am to 4pm, Full-day pre-conference workshop
“Preventive Interventions for Children of Parents with a Mental Illness: Putting Evidence into Practice”
Presenters: Dr. Nick Kowalenko, Dr. Mary Jessop, Prof. William Beardslee and Brad Morgan

This workshop will introduce participants to current international evidence regarding interventions for children and families affected by parental mental illness. This will also include introductory training in ‘Family Focus’, a preventive family intervention for families where a parent has depression.
Congress information and registration form.

27 May, 10:30am – 12:00pm
Child Stream Symposium
“The Children of Parents with Mental Illness (COPMI): Intervening Effectively”
Presenters: Dr. Nick Kowalenko, Prof. William Beardslee, Dr. Hiran Thabrew and Brad Morgan

29 May, 10:30am – 12:30pm
Invited Speaker and Prevention Symposium
“Prevention of Mental Illness: Reality or Rhetoric?”
Presenters: Dr. William Beardslee, Bryanne Barnett and Dr. Nick Kowalenko

Dr. Beardslee’s visit to Australia has been funded by the RANZCP, with other organisations such as the COPMI Program of Child and Youth Mental Health Service and the Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service, contributing to some of his scheduled activities.

For more information visit the links above, or contact:
Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service
Thy Meddick, Thy_Meddick@health.qld.gov.au  / (07) 3266 3100 or Bev Burr, Bev_Burr@health.qld.gov.au  / (07) 3266 3100

Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists 2013 Congress Office
(03) 9645 6311 / ranzcp@wsm.com.au


Free DVD for parents and mental health professionals

Are you a parent who experiences depression and/or anxiety? 
Are you a mental health professional working with parents who experience depression and/or anxiety?

If you’re either of the above and live in Australia, you can benefit from ordering a free Family Focus DVD.

What does the DVD do?
The DVD offers parents who experience depression and/or anxiety the tools to start a discussion with their family about it.

Open family discussion can help reduce the risks to the one million Australian children who live with a parent who has depression or anxiety and are at risk of developing their own mental health problems.

The DVD helps families and children better understand their parent’s illness and start a conversation about it. This has been shown to strengthen children’s resilience and cope better.

What’s on the DVD?
The DVD features engaging fictional scenarios of a family where the father experiences depression, and another family where the mother experiences anxiety. There is a section for parents to view first, then a section specifically for children to view with their parent.

>Order DVDs here

*Professionals: There’s no limit to the number of DVDs you can order, so make sure you have copies on hand for the parents you work with. You can also access free training in the evidence-based Family Focus follow-up intervention here.


Listen to Radio Adelaide speak with Colleen Sincock, a mother living with depression and anxiety and COPMI Lived Experience Representative, share her experience and the benefits of talking to her children about it.

>Listen to interview

Many thanks to Colleen for sharing her story with others.




Webinars about families living with parental mental illness

COPMI has contributed to two Mental Health Professionals Network (MHPN) webinars featuring interdisciplinary panel discussions reviewing contemporary case studies, with a focus on families living with mental illness.

“These webinars are very helpful in providing information from a variety of sources that I would not otherwise have access to” said a webinar participant following the first collaborative webinar.

Each of the webinars are available for viewing or download for free from the MHPN website:

Contributing to the discussion are:

  • Emeritus Professor Dorothy Scott (Social Worker)
  • Dr Cate Howell (GP)
  • Mr John Clark (dad who experiences mental illness)
  • Dr Nick Kowalenko (Psychiatrist)

  • Coping with undiagnosed paternal depression in the family reviews Riley’s story. He is a thirteen year old child of a mother who has been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. Contributing to the discussion are panellists:
    • Associate Professor Kim Foster (Mental Health Nurse)
    • Ms Rose Cuff (Occupational Therapist)
    • Dr Nick Kowalenko (Psychiatrist)
    • Associate Professor Morton Rawlin (GP)

All MHPN webinars can be viewed or downloaded in part or full at no cost. 


An open letter to health professionals

The following is an open letter that was sent to COPMI by Amanda, one of the COPMI Lived Experience representatives. She wrote the letter as an appeal to health professionals to consider the issues that mental health terminology can raise.

We thought it would be a good opportunity to share her thoughts with this network, as a reminder to those who work with people who experience mental illness to consider the language they use and the profound impact it can have on the people they seek to help.

Many thanks go to Amanda for sharing her feelings on the topic.

>Amanda’s open letter

>Archived emails here