eNews October 2015


New GP Mental Health Treatment Plan templates include parenting and child needs

The COPMI national initiative has partnered with the General Practice Mental Health Standards Collaboration (GPMHSC) to incorporate parenting and children’s needs into Mental Health Treatment Plan templates.

The adapted versions of the plans are now available on the GPMHSC website:

What has changed and why 

Amendments to the Mental Health Treatment Plan templates were recommended by Australian GPs who took part in a scoping project that was led by the COPMI national initiative and the Monash University last year. The project explored the family-focused practices of GPs when working with patients who are parents with a mental health condition. Many GPs acknowledged that parenting could be a potential stressor as well as a motivator for seeking help for mental illness. This highlighted the importance of asking about the family context during mental health consultations. Barriers to family-focused practice were also identified, primarily that Mental Health Treatment Plans did not encourage conversations and reflections about the parenting role and children.

As a result of these discussions, the updated Adult Mental Health Treatment Plan now identifies parenting status and has prompts to explore how the presenting mental health problem may impact on parenting capacity and child needs. The Child Mental Health Treatment Plan now considers the impact of the presenting problem on the parent-child relationship and the parent’s mental wellbeing.

The adapted plans aim to:

  • make conversations about parenting and children a routine part of mental health treatment planning in general practice
  • improve treatment planning and outcomes for patients who are parents
  • support healthy parent-child relationships and promote protective factors for the child’s wellbeing and development.

More support for GPs

eLearning courses are available on the COPMI website to further support GPs to help parents, children and families.

  • The Child Aware practice eLearning course highlights the importance of identifying parenting status and explores ways of talking with parents about the potential impact of adult problems on parenting and children.
  • The Let’s talk about children eLearning course provides training in a brief, structured discussion with parents who experience mental illness about parenting, the wellbeing and development of the child, and ways that parents can enhance their supportive networks.

    NOTE: The ‘Let’s Talk’ eLearing course is accredited for CPD point accural:

    • RACGP QI & CPD 40 point Category 1 activity
    • Focussed Psychological Strategies CPD
    • Mental Health CPD  

For more information about the adapted Mental Health Treatment Plan templates contact Caroline Williamson.

New ‘pathways of care’ resource for professionals

The COPMI national initiative has developed the pathways of care resource for professionals working with parents who experience mental illness and their families. It offers the opportunity to map out services within a community that families are connected with (or could connect with) to support their needs.

The resource considers the needs of the child, the parent and the family and prompts professionals to reflect on how they can:

  • promote engagement with social activities and groups
  • create connections with services to support general health and development
  • foster positive emotional wellbeing for everyone.

Uses of the resource

The pathways of care resource can be used in several different ways:

  • As a resource for starting collaborative conversations with parents
  • As a research tool on behalf of a parent
  • As a professional reflective exercise
  • As a team reflective exercise
  • As an organisational mapping tool
Use with parents

We recommend for this resource is be used in collaboration with parents to consider their needs, the needs of their child and the needs of their family. The resource looks in particular at opportunities within their own family, their social networks and their community.

Ideally, you would follow the process below:

  • Sit with parents and explain why each of the areas of support are important and influence one another.
  • Go through each arm of support, starting with ‘supporting the child’ to look at building child understanding and emotional security and to promote child health and development.
  • Consider services in the local area that parents can access for support with mental health difficulties.
  • Consider the supports that are available in the area to strengthen family relationships.
  • As you discuss these needs, parents will be able to short-list the best options to meet their family’s needs.
Use with professionals and teams

You may choose to use the pathways of care resource as a reflective exercise to map your existing knowledge of community supports. This can be used individually or as part of a team or an organisation as a way of pooling collective knowledge.

When using the pathways of care resource you will be prompted to reflect on the information and services that you or your team currently work with and can identify. Identifying knowledge gaps can encourage you to increase your awareness of some of the universal and community-based resources and services that may be available in your area. This can then help you to identify services to collaborate with in order to meet the needs of children, parents and families. You can add new information to your list of options over time.


The COPMI resource library has been re-launched

The COPMI resource library has received a face-lift. It’s now a more intuitive search experience, with the ability to move effortlessly through and between search results. 

The resources in this area will be updated over the next few months, to ensure the latest online information, fact sheets, videos and articles are accessible to everyone.

For those new to this tool – you can find COPMI-related information for a wide range of audiences; parents, carers and family members, professionals in a range of settings, and young people of different ages.


Did you miss last month’s KidsMatter-hosted COPMI webinar? 

This webinar is now available online for viewing, and will be of particular interest to early childhood services, schools and health and community professionals.

The webinar features an interdisciplinary panel discussion that explores the challenges faced by Kyra (aged 10) and her brother Declan (aged 3) who have a mother that has a mental illness and whose father is often away from home, working to financially support the family.

The panel discuss different ways to recognise and respond to the needs of the children within their early childhood service and school, including how to strengthen relationships and networks to support their social and emotional wellbeing.


New Zealand launches national guidelines

The COPMI national initiative in Australia would like to highlight an important milestone for our neighbours in New Zealand, with the recent launch of ‘Supporting parents with mental illness and/or addiction and their children: A guideline for mental health and addiction services’ by the New Zealand Ministry of Health.

These guidelines provide all New Zealand mental health and addiction services (adult and child services alike) with the mandate to work in a family-focused way to help parents achieve the best for their children. Their aim is to ensure that the wellbeing of children is everyone’s responsibility, not just that of infant, child and adolescent services.

The Ministry’s guidelines are accompanied by resources that help services to look at their ‘readiness’ to implement the guidelines and include practical templates for local use. More information about the guidelines can be accessed from the New Zealand Ministry of Health website.


Recognising grandparent carers

Sunday October 25 is Grandparents Day in Australia. It acknowledges the vital role that grandparents play in our society, both as custodians of individual and cultural memories and as providers of care, love and guidance to their children and grandchildren.

For parents who become unwell with mental illness, grandparents often step in to help care for their grandkids, or even become full-time parents for the second time around. Grandparents Day is an opportunity to recognise and celebrate their contribution in these families.

This information may be helpful for grandparents who are caring for children when their parent is mentally unwell:

If you are a professional, this is the perfect time to stop and think about grandparent carers too. The report ‘Grandparents raising grandchildren: Towards recognition, respect and reward’ presents findings from the research project ‘Grandparents as Primary Carers of their Grandchildren: A National, State and Territory Analysis’. The research was conducted by the Social Policy Research Centre at the University of New South Wales.  

So let’s all take some time on October 25 to say ‘thank you’ and remember the special moments that have been shared with older loved ones (past and present) and acknowledge the ways they have enhanced our lives. It’s a great way to bring the whole family together and to celebrate the invaluable role grandparents play in our community.


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