Age-related information

When the person has an infant or young toddler.

  • A booklet called ‘The Best for Me and My Baby‘ has been developed for people with a mental illness who are contemplating parenthood or expecting a baby or who are parents of infants. A ‘Baby Care Plan‘ is also downloadable.
  • Support parent-child attachment and early childhood development through advice or referral to maternal & child health services.
  • Encourage them (if they haven’t already done so) to discuss management of any medication with their doctor to enhance breast feeding and fulfillment of parenting role.
  • Counsel if required regarding feelings such as anxiety, anger, fear, isolation and grief.

When the person has a young child/ren ( <5 years)

  • Encourage parents to explain the mental illness or health problem in very simple terms to the child (age appropriate resources).
  • Support attachment and early childhood development through advice or referral to maternal & child health services.
  • Support respite for both parent and child though child-care options.

When the person is the parent of primary school aged child/ren or adolescents

  • Encourage parents to:
    • explain the mental illness or health problem to the child/young person at a level they understand (age appropriate resources)
    • talk to the child about their concerns and feelings relating to the parental mental illness/health problem.
  • Suggest that children/young people who are providing care for their parents may gain support from programmes for young carers (Commonwealth Carer Resource Centre Ph: 1800 242 636)
  • Support respite for both parent and child though child-care options.
  • Explore the possibility of the child/young person attending a support programme for their age group (state based programs)
  • Where appropriate, and especially if the child is missing school or struggling with school, encourage the parent to speak to the school or write a letter to them – see the ‘Supporting Our Family‘ kit for a downloadable sample letter for parents to write to the school.

Pregnancy or plans by the person with the mental health problem to conceive

  • Support people with a mental illness who intend to have children or are currently pregnant to access early antenatal care and to prepare for the care and support of their infant/s. This may include:
    • revision of medications and their impact on pregnancy and/or breastfeeding
    • planning with the parent/s for temporary care of the infant should the parent become ill after childbirth
    • discussing strategies to assist the parent/s to gain appropriate supports (including financial if necessary) prior to the baby’s birth.
  • Support access to advice regarding family planning for people with a mental illness who are contemplating having a child or more children.
  • A booklet called ‘The Best For Me and My Baby‘ has been developed for people with a mental illness who are contemplating parenthood are ‘expectant’ parents and for parents of infants.