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

CR164. Parents as patients: Supporting the needs of patients who are parents and their children

Price: £0.00

Approved: Jul 2010

Published: Jan 2011

Status: current

Number of pages: 62

Review by: 2013

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Recent data indicates that 10–15% of children in the UK live with a parent who has a mental disorder. Although many parents with mental illness and their children can be remarkably resilient, adverse outcomes for children are associated with parental mental disorder and many of these parents are aware of the negative impact of their problems on their children and are fearful of losing custody of them.


This report provides a fully referenced and practical summary of key issues involving the interactions and influences between parental psychiatric disorder and child mental health and wellbeing. The links between poverty, mental ill health, discrimination and social exclusion are compelling and any attempt to improve the life chances for patients who are parents and their children must consider the family context of service users and must be based on a good understanding of the needs of children and their mentally ill parents. The report takes the recent evidence base, demographic changes, changes in policy and services and new legislation into full account and makes nine recommendations.


The fact that services for children and adults are usually still delivered separately means that this report will be of relevance to a wide readership including those in non-mental health services, those with responsibility for supporting families, the voluntary sector, service users and all those with service planning and policy development responsibilities.


This report is an update of, and replaces CR105: Patients as Parents (2002).


  • Working Group
  • Executive summary and recommendations
  • Introduction


  • Good-enough parenting and the needs of children
  • The experience of parents with mental illness
  • Young carers
  • The impact of parental mental disorder on children
  • Child abuse and death
  • Fathers with mental illness
  • Asylum seekers and refugees
  • The role of the professionals in caring about patients–parents
  • What should services and professionals do?
  • Acute services
  • Parenting assessment
  • Interventions


  • Conclusions
  • Resources
  • References
  • Appendix
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