Children Need More Support To Help Mentally Ill Parents

In addition to medicinal support, mental health charities like Rethink and the Mental Health Association are campaigning for more emotional support and practical advice to be provided for young carers. Jo Loughran, head of media and campaigns at Rethink, said:

“When a loved one is admitted to hospital, it can be a very difficult and traumatic time for their friends and families. Families should be encouraged to help look after their loved ones as it often made the member with a mental illness feel more secure, she said. “Everyone working in mental health needs to ensure that effective and appropriate involvement of families is the norm, not the exception.”

But some of the proposals suggested in a report by the Healthcare Commission, such as the increase of information sharing between specialists and GPs, could raise moral problems for families.

Ms Loughran questioned whether it was ethically right to allow patient confidentiality breaches in the name of information sharing, saying: “Rethink research, which was funded by the NHS, found that fear of breaching patient confidentiality can prevent effective involvement of carers in mental health care.”

Moira Fraser, head of policy at the Mental Health Foundation, commented on the fact that there was often “very little support available” for children whose parents have a mental health problem. “In some areas, services try hard to support families of people experiencing mental health problems.

“However, in too many, families feel isolated and helpless and feel their concerns are not taken seriously,” she said. “Families should be given help and have their own needs addressed at this very difficult time. However, when services are cut, services for families and carers are often the first to go.”