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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Being Seen and Heard: The Needs of Children of Parents with Mental Illness (DVD)

Dr Alan Cooklin

Price: £36.00

College members' price: £32.40

Published: Mar 2006

Format: 1 hr DVD & CD-ROM

ISBN: 9781904671435

Being Seen and Heard: The Needs of Children of Parents with Mental Illness (DVD)

This is a training film designed for use by staff involved in the care of parents with mental illness and their children.

As many as 175,000 young people in the UK are involved in caring for an adult with mental illness. These children usually worry about their parents and feel largely unsupported. They may blame themselves for the illness or fear that they will also ‘catch’ it. Children with a parent with mental illness often fall through the professional net and are seen as nobody’s responsibility. Nothing is explained to them, and they often receive no help at all to deal with the effects of the parent’s illness. These children need to be seen and heard.

All professionals working with adults with mental illness need to stop and think about the needs of these young people. This training package provides practical and creative suggestions on how professionals can work effectively with children and parents and encourages collaboration of the many agencies involved. It can also be used in conjunction with the Department of Health’s Crossing Bridges (1998) resource. The accompanying CD-ROM includes a supporting training pack and a copy of the College’s council report Patients as Parents (CR105)*.

The film is clearly divided into two main sections. Part I shows children and parents relating their various experiences. Part II focuses on solutions and the ways that professionals can help. The stories are interspersed with comments from experts. The key points of each sub-section are summarised in text on the screen.

Part I begins with an example of a referral which includes a discussion of what questions ought to be asked. Children and parents relate their experiences and opinions. The young people speak very frankly on what they believe is needed from professionals, both at home and when visiting parents in hospital.

Part II first examines ways in which professionals can help, again with contributions from young people themselves. Tips are given for talking with children, both on their own and in the presence of parents or the whole family. Finally, details are shown about the Kidstime Workshops – a special project being carried out in the Camden area which uses play-writing and drama to encourage children to express themselves.

On the CD-ROM

The 32 page Training Pack includes:

  • Handouts for use during a training session: These list the key points made and can assist in note-taking.
  • Guidance for the training organiser: Lists of various issues and emotions (such as disruption of education and self-isolation) are given with cross references to the video sub-sections where these are mentioned.
  • Suggestions for training group exercises and subjects for further discussion.
  • Detailed information on how to talk with children: Extensive advice is given, along with practical tips, such as playing visual games for support and the importance of using a normal voice.
  • A list of related literature and organisations which can offer further help.

Patients as Parents (CR105)*: This 32 page council report from the Royal College of Psychiatrists (2002) addresses the needs and safety of children whose parents have mental illness. It discusses and presents practice guidelines for a range of different areas such as parental self-harm and parental psychiatric diagnosis.

* = CR105 has now been withdrawn.  It is replaced by CR164: Parents as patients: Supporting the needs of patients who are parents and their children which can be downloaded and read free-of-charge (January 2011).

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This is applicable for multimedia products (DVDs, CD-ROMs, audio CDs and tapes).

"Extremely a training video it is excellent, managing to give young carers a voice."
Young People Now

"Content is well organised and edited. ...A useful training tool across professional groups and cultures."
Child and Adolescent Mental Health

"Extremely useful for mixed groups of children's social workers and mental health workers."
ADSS Inform
Wow! What a wonderful film! ...this is a must. This film makes the point forcefully that the welfare of children is everyone's business."
Mental Health Practice

"A film that is already being talked about. We have heard of seasoned managers dabbing their eyes and teachers provoked to anger."
Child and Adolescent Mental Health