S69: A Parenting Program with a Difference. A program which helps parents living with a mental health issue increase their confidence and capacity.

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By September 17, 2019 No Comments

Authors: Jayne Parish, Suzanne Heppell

Year: 2019

Event: 2019 TheMHS Conference

Subject: A Parenting Program with a Difference. A program which helps parents living with a mental health issue increase their confidence and capacity.

Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers



Jayne Parish, Manager, Mentis Assist Mental Health Services, Mornington, Victoria
Jayne started her Community Mental Health career working with complex clients. Transitioning from support facilitator, to now the Services Manager at Mentis Assist. Jayne has a Masters; degree in Women’s’ Health, Bachelor Degree in Health Science (Naturopathy), Diploma of Herbal Medicine, Diploma of Nutrition, and currently undergoing a Masters of Healthcare Leadership.

Suzanne, Anglicare Victoria’s Program Co-ordinator of the Parenting Program for those with a Mental Illness in Frankston and Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. It was initiated in 2018 in partnership with Mentis Assist, Mornington. Suzanne established and co-ordinated the Champs Program in Frankston and Mornington Peninsula in 2010.

Parents with a mental illness can have an impaired capacity to meet the needs of their children. This is because their illness can touch multiple facets of their lives, and it unfairly and negatively impacts their loved ones the most. Research suggests that parents with a mental illness often have poor relationships with their children, resulting from poor attachment. The negative outcomes from poor attachment and bonding are well known and can have life-long societal impacts for these children. As such, building the parenting capacity of those parents with a mental illness is paramount. Unfortunately the vulnerability of these parents often shows that the feelings of being judged by other parents can turn them away from universally available parenting programs. This is a significant gap in service provision that requires a program with a mental illness lens.

To address this need on the Victorian Mornington Peninsula, Anglicare Victoria in Rosebud has partnered with Mentis Assist Mental Health Services Mornington to produce a Parenting Program with a mental health focus. The program aims to improve parenting skills and increase their knowledge about how to manage their mental illness more effectively. An evaluation was conducted in 2018 using qualitative methods. It was found that the program made significant changes in the clients’ attitude and behaviour with their children.

Learning Objectives
Learning Objective 1: To improve the consumers’ parenting skills and increase their knowledge of coping strategies to better manage their mental illness
Learning Objective 2: To showcase a collaborative model of two community organisations working together to improve the mental health and family relationships of their clients

Given the potential adverse impact of parental mental illness on parenting capacity and, in turn, outcomes for children, engaging this population in parenting training is of importance (Isobel et al., 2011; Phelan, Howe, Cashman & Batchelor, 2012; Phelan, Lee, Howe & Walter, 2006). Unfortunately, however, parents tend to be reluctant to access generic parenting programs (Ackerson, 2003; Isobel et al, 2016; Phelan et al., 2012).

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