Adult mental health service engagement with patients who are parents: evidence from 15 English mental health trusts

Dunn, Abby, Startup, Helen and Cartwright-Hatton, Sam (2021) Adult mental health service engagement with patients who are parents: evidence from 15 English mental health trusts. British Journal of Clinical Psychology. pp. 1-14. ISSN 0144-6657

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Abstract

Objectives
Ascertaining whether mental health service users have children is a clinical requirement in UK health services, and acknowledgement of a patient’s parenting role is necessary to enable engagement with their parenting experience and to facilitate support, both of which are associated with improved outcomes for the parent–child dyad. The current study sought to investigate the practice of mental health practitioners working in UK adult mental health services with regard to the following: Ascertaining whether patients have children; engagement with the parenting role of patients; engagement with the construct of ‘think patient as parent’.

Methods
Self-report online/paper survey of 1105 multi-disciplinary adult mental health practitioners working in 15 mental health trusts in England.

Results
A quarter of adult mental health practitioners did not routinely ascertain whether patients had dependent children. Less than half of practitioners engaged with the parenting experience or the potential impact of parental mental health on children.

Conclusions
The parenting role of patients is not routinely captured by large numbers of practitioners working in adult mental health settings. This is despite it being a mandatory requirement and an integral component of the systematic care of the adult, and preventative care for the offspring. Failure to engage with patients who are parents is a missed opportunity with profound downstream public health implications. The practice deficits identified in this study should be viewed in terms of broader structural failures to address the intergenerational transmission of poor mental health.

Practitioner points
-Some parents who have mental health difficulties may struggle to provide appropriate and effective care to their children. The parenting role can also exacerbate mental health difficulties.
-Identification of dependent children is a mandatory component of adult mental health clinical practice and is necessary to understand a parent’s support needs.
-A quarter of adult mental health practitioners are failing to do so. A missed opportunity to engage with the support needs of the parent–child dyad.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: adult mental health services, children of parents with mental illness, parental mental health, patients who are parents
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 28 Mar 2022 15:29
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2022 07:14
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/105067

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