BACKGROUND A considerable number of people with a mental illness are parents caring for dependent children. For those with a mental illness, parenting can provide a sense of competence, belonging, identity and hope and hence is well aligned to the concept of personal recovery. However, little research has focused on the recovery journey of those who are parents and have a mental illness. This randomised controlled trial aims to (i) evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention model of recovery for parents (Let's Talk about Children) in three different mental health service sectors and (ii) examine the economic value of a larger roll out (longer term) of the parent recovery model. METHODS A two arm parallel randomised controlled trial will be used with participants, who are being treated for their mental illness in adult mental health, non-government community mental health or family welfare services. The study will involve 192 parents, who are considered by their treating practitioner to be sufficiently well to provide informed consent and participate in an intervention (Let's Talk about Children) or control group (treatment as usual). Participant randomisation will occur at the level of the treating practitioner and will be based on whether the randomised practitioner is trained in the intervention. Outcomes are compared at pre, post intervention and six-month follow-up. Recovery, parenting and family functioning, and quality of life questionnaires will be used to measure parent wellbeing and the economic benefits of the intervention. DISCUSSION This is the first randomised controlled trial to investigate the efficacy of a parenting intervention on recovery outcomes and the first to provide an economic evaluation of an intervention for parents with a mental illness. An implementation model is required to embed the intervention in different sectors. TRIAL REGISTRATION The trial was retrospectively registered: ACTRN12616000460404 on the 8/4/2016.