General News — 17 January 2013
New resource to help parents with mental illness

A new DVD to help parents with mental illness talk to their children about their condition has been launched by the Minister for Mental Health, Mark Butler.

The DVD, Family Focus, was developed by Children of Parents with a Mental Illness (COPMI) in collaboration with a number of Australian health professionals.

On launching the resource, Butler said it is estimated that over a million children live in families where a parent has depression or anxiety.

“Up to 23 per cent of children live in a household where mental illness is experienced and these children face some unique challenges,” Butler said. “We know that these children are at greater risk of developing a mental health or substance abuse issues.”

Health professionals including psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health nurses, occupational therapists, social workers and researchers, and Australian parents and children with lived experience of parental depression/anxiety are reported to have been involved with the process.

Chair of the Australian Infant Child Adolescent and Mental Health Association Phil Robinson said that the launch of the DVD is a “huge step” in mental health prevention.

“Depression and anxiety affects the whole family. Children will notice changes in their parent but won’t necessarily understand and that’s why it’s important to talk about it with them,” Robinson said. “When parents talk openly about mental illness with their children, they are much more resilient to developing mental health problems themselves.”

National depression Not for Profit beyondblue is supporting the launch by helping to provide 50,000 free copies to the public.

Psychiatrist and board director of beyondblue Associate Professor Michael Baigent said: “A dilemma many parents face is deciding whether to talk about their experiences of depression and anxiety with their children; and if so, what they should say.”

“Family Focus highlights the importance of talking about mental illness with children and helps parents start the conversation.

“This DVD is the first Australian resource of its kind that helps parents communicate with their children about their mental illness,” Baigent said.

DVDs are available from www.familyfocusdvd.com.au

As first appeared on Probono Australia, 15 January 2013

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