5.3 Children of Parents with Mental Health Problems

See the Family Approach Protocol and Toolkit for more information.

For national guidance, see the NSPCC guidance on how to help children living with parents with mental health problems.

Young Carers: Some children may be considered young carers if their lives are impacted by caring responsibilities.

Parents with mental ill health may neglect their own and their children’s physical, emotional and social needs. Their children may have caring responsibilities, which are inappropriate to their age and may have an adverse effect on their development. Some forms of mental ill health may blunt parents’ emotions and feelings or cause them to be ‘unavailable’ or not responsive to the child; or to behave in bizarre or violent ways towards their children or environment.

Contents

Impact of parental mental health problems on children

The NSPCC lists the potential impact on children when living with parents with mental health problems. These include:

  • increased risk of developing behaviour problems such as physical aggression by the time they reach school age
  • risk of developing mental health difficulties
  • taking on a caring role, providing emotional and social support, basic household chores and more intimate tasks such as nursing or bathing their parents
  • demands of caring may lead to fewer opportunities to have fun and build friendships, disruption of education, educational underachievement and reduced life chances
  • constant worry about their parents' or carers' health and wellbeing and denial of their own needs and feelings
  • distress if faced with frightening situations such as a parent's suicide attempt, overdose or volatile behaviour
  • a lower standard of living or financial hardship if their parent's illness makes it difficult for them to work
  • embarrassment or shame over their parents' or carers' condition, limiting their friendships and social interaction due to the social stigma attached to mental illness
  • bullying and social isolation
  • separation from parents or carers by children's services or the parent's hospitalisation
  • in the most serious cases, children may suffer abuse or neglect from a parent or carer with a mental health problem.

Action to take 


A referral to Children's social care should be made where it is believed that a child of a parent with mental health problems may have suffered, or is likely to suffer significant harm.

Young carers – Information about services and support

Southampton

Portsmouth

Hampshire

Isle of Wight

 

Access to support services available at an early intervention stage, where a child is not at risk of harm. Also consider support available within a school or setting such as an Emotional Support Literacy Assistant (ELSA).

Local Mental Health Support — Isle of Wight Community Mental Health (iwmentalhealth.co.uk)

Southampton Mental Health Services

Mental Wellbeing Hampshire

Portsmouth Mental Health Services

 

And through Early Help services and support

Southampton City Council Children and Families First Service

Contact details

You can access support from the Children and Families First Service by completing the online referral form for the Children’s Resource Service or e: childrensresourceservice@southampton.gov.uk (with or without an Early Help Assessment). The Children’s Resource Service will provide a decision whether a response from the Children and Families First Service or from Children’s Social Care is required.

Portsmouth Early Help and Prevention Service

Contact details 

You can access support from The Early Help and Prevention Service by sending an Inter-Agency Contact Form with or without an Early Help Assessment to the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) at Mash@portsmouthcc.gov.uk for a decision around whether an Early Help response or Children and Families Services response is required.

Isle of Wight Early Help Team

A range of services provide early help on the island and can be accessed in the community, through schools and voluntary organisations. Information can be found on the Children Service Hub or by contacting the Early Help Team

Contact details

Early Help Team, 3rd Floor, County Hall, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 1UD

Phone: Contact Children's Services on 0300 300 0117 and professionals please call 0300 300 0901. For Targeted Youth Support please call 823889.

Early Help Services in Hampshire

Contact details for professionals can be found here

Hampshire information for professionals and service providers

Remember: If you are concerned a child may be at risk of harm, always make a referral to Children’s Social Care

Inter-agency referral/contact form:

 

Further information

 NSPCCParental mental health: How to help children living with parents with mental health problems

Review date

HIPS Procedure Group date

Reviewed by

May 2022

24/05/22

Debbie Key

Contents

Impact of parental mental health problems on children

The NSPCC lists the potential impact on children when living with parents with mental health problems. These include:

  • increased risk of developing behaviour problems such as physical aggression by the time they reach school age
  • risk of developing mental health difficulties
  • taking on a caring role, providing emotional and social support, basic household chores and more intimate tasks such as nursing or bathing their parents
  • demands of caring may lead to fewer opportunities to have fun and build friendships, disruption of education, educational underachievement and reduced life chances
  • constant worry about their parents' or carers' health and wellbeing and denial of their own needs and feelings
  • distress if faced with frightening situations such as a parent's suicide attempt, overdose or volatile behaviour
  • a lower standard of living or financial hardship if their parent's illness makes it difficult for them to work
  • embarrassment or shame over their parents' or carers' condition, limiting their friendships and social interaction due to the social stigma attached to mental illness
  • bullying and social isolation
  • separation from parents or carers by children's services or the parent's hospitalisation
  • in the most serious cases, children may suffer abuse or neglect from a parent or carer with a mental health problem.

Action to take

A referral to Children's social care should be made where it is believed that a child of a parent with mental health problems may have suffered, or is likely to suffer significant harm.

 

Further information

This page is correct as printed on Tuesday 21st of May 2024 08:44:04 AM please refer back to this website (http://hipsprocedures.org.uk) for updates.