The mental health and wellbeing of the children and adults in a family where a parent has a mental health problem are closely linked. Despite this, few services take a holistic view of family needs. SCIE developed a guide to help services improve their response to parents with mental health problems and their families by taking a ‘think child, think parent, think family’ approach. Five local authority areas and the five Health and Social Care Trust areas in Northern Ireland implemented the guide in September 2009. This document summarises the findings of the first year of the evaluation of the project.
Making ‘think child, think parent, think family’ a reality requires involvement of a range of services across acute and community adult mental health services, children’s services, CAMHS and the voluntary sector. ‘A lot of small changes can make a big difference’ – the English sites in particular sought to embed the think family principles in a range of policies and initiatives. There are some ‘quick wins’ – low or no cost actions which can kick start changes. These can include lunchtime learning sessions for staff, and ensuring that think family is included in staff inductions and existing safeguarding training. The voluntary and community sector have a key role to play, but may need support to ensure their systems can contribute to effective screening, assessment and onward referral of parents with mental health problems and their families. The Common Assessment Framework and Team Around the Child structures in children’s services can provide a good basis for taking a whole-family approach