Parental mental health
Where parents experience mental health problems, a holistic approach to assessment is central to providing appropriate services to both parents and children.
The impact that parental mental health problems can have on children and young people depends on a range of factors, such as the support put in place, family circumstances, severity of the problems or child’s resilience.
With the right conditions and support in place, children can receive appropriate and nurturing care. Nevertheless, professionals need to be aware that parental mental health problems may pose risks to a child’s development and wellbeing, in the form of emotional, psychological or social vulnerabilities, neglect or abuse.
Children might experience a high level of anxiety, social isolation, financial hardship, possible separation from their parent/carer, disruptions from education, stigma or bullying and, in more severe cases, risk of immediate harm.
Pre-natal and post-natal depression can affect the bonding between a parent and their baby and the care that a parent is able to provide.
Practitioners must keep a child’s best interests at the centre, recognising and building on the strengths of the family and distinguishing between immediate concerns for the child’s safety and their wellbeing, and the risks which can be mitigated with appropriate support (NSPCC How to help children living with parents with mental health problems).
Effective partnership working across services is fundamental to ensure that children are protected and their short-term and longer-term needs are met (National Guidance for Child Protection).
National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2021
Scottish Government Mental Health Strategy (2017-2027)
- Mind: Parenting with a mental health problem - Information and support for parents
- NSPCC information and guidance on supporting children living with parents with mental health problems
- Breathing Space: Confidential phone-line for anyone in Scotland feeling low, anxious or depressed Call: 0800 83 85 87
- NHS mental health problems and pregnancy: Awareness raising of mental health problems that may be experienced during pregnancy and after giving birth and guidance on how to get help
- Perinatal Mental Health Network Scotland - Network aimed at facilitating the collaboration between health professionals as well as families
- SCIE Think Family - Resource guiding professionals to focus on the whole family