WDHB to launch two new mental health programmes for parents

7 April 2017

Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) is launching two new programmes designed to support clinicians working with parents or caregivers who experience mental illness.

Called Keeping Families and Children in Mind and Let’s Talk, both programmes are focused on encouraging conversations that help children better understand what their parents are experiencing and very importantly - that they didn’t cause their parents’ illness.

Last month, Whanganui became the first DHB in the country to run a three-day ‘train the trainers’ workshop for the two programmes which are set to be rolled out this year in Whanganui and over the next two years nationally.

Staff from Northland, Taranaki, Whanganui, Mid Central, Hawkes Bay, Wairarapa and Canterbury DHBs and non-government organisations, including Iwi Mental Health Services and Supporting Families Services, attended the workshop hosted by WDHB’s Supporting Parents Healthy Children (COPMIA) Steering Group.

WDHB children’s mental health clinician Jo Heap says Keeping Families and Children in Mind is specifically designed for clinicians working with parents who experience mental illness. The programme is focused on developing a family-sensitive approach which takes into consideration how children and young people are feeling about their parents’ illness.

Information is presented in an interesting, thought-provoking and multimedia way that engages participants.  Topics include risk and protective factors, determinants affecting mental health, stigma, service user as a parent, barriers for clinicians, importance of talking to children, impact of mental illness on the family, strength-based approach, and practical steps for clinicians, young carers and grandparent carers. The programme is divided into six modules.

The other programme called Let’s Talk is a brief, easy to use, evidence-based method that trains professionals how to encourage discussion about parenting, wellbeing and the development of children who have parents/caregivers experiencing mental illness.

Divided into four modules, Let’s Talk  provides the clinician with practical tools for helping parents identify,  understand and develop strategies tailored to their children’s strengths and vulnerabilities.

Ms Heap says it’s an approach which views the parent as the expert on their own children – a stance that empowers the parent to reflect on their parenting in the context of the mental illness they experience.

For further media comment please contact WDHB communications manager Sue Campion on 021 246 8126 or 06 348 3170.