A national survey of over 1,800 people with psychosis showed a rise over the past decade in the proportion who were parents – with women up from 50.5 to 56.2% and men from 21.3 to 25.9% – while in the general population the figures were in decline.
Although most coped well with parenthood, those with dependent children faced a range of challenges including poor education, unemployment, poverty and social isolation. Levels of substance abuse were high, with over twothirds of fathers and just under half of mothers using cannabis and similar numbers abusing alcohol.
Although many parents functioned in the average range, a significant number were moderately to severely disabled on global independent ratings (fathers 49.1%, mothers 35.7%), the authors found.
Given the rise in parenthood among people with psychosis sexual health counselling and specialist perinatal psychiatry services should be further developed, the authors said.
Coordinating mental health services was important and there needed to be a sharper focus on enabling access to support and providing financial planning assistance to the 20% of parents who were living below the poverty line.
But despite their difficulties, parents with psychosis mostly functioned well and showed “strength of character, resilience in the face of adversity and discrimination, and promise for others who may follow in their footsteps,” the study authors concluded.
As first appeared in Psychiatry Update, 3 August 2012