Children of parents with a mental illness visiting psychiatric facilities: perceptions of staff.


Children of parents with mental illness have been identified as a hidden population within mental health services, despite many clients being parents. In Australia, children of parents with a mental illness have been the focus of initiatives aimed at promoting their health and well-being and developing family-focused services. However, there has been little focus on children visiting acute inpatient mental health facilities. The aim of this study was to understand the experiences of children, their parents and carers, and staff when children visit, to better inform service planning. A qualitative exploratory research framework was used, and data were gathered through interviews. This paper presents the findings from the perspective of staff. Findings indicated that staff experienced being in a dilemma about children visiting and there were barriers to implementing family-friendly services. While staff mostly agreed in principle that children's visiting was beneficial, there was a lack of local policy and guidelines, and ad hoc arrangements existed. In addition, staff were unsure of their role with children, felt ill-equipped to talk to children about mental illness; and lacked knowledge of age-appropriate resources. Models of inpatient care need to be developed with a family focus that acknowledges the parental roles of clients and supports children visiting.

DOI: 10.1111/j.1447-0349.2011.00740.x

Cite this paper

@article{Obrien2011ChildrenOP, title={Children of parents with a mental illness visiting psychiatric facilities: perceptions of staff.}, author={Louise O'brien and Patricia Brady and M . Clement Joe Anand and Donna Gillies}, journal={International journal of mental health nursing}, year={2011}, volume={20 5}, pages={358-63} }