If you could send a message back to yourself as a child, what would you say?

“It will be okay”

“Your mother and father aren’t well, that’s why they’re doing what they’re doing. It’s not your fault”

“There is a future. It’s not always going to be like this”

“It’s not about you”


Many children have, or had, parents who experienced mental health difficulties, and this can present significant challenges.

Knowing how to respond to children who have witnessed and experienced the effects of parents’ mental health problems can also be quite challenging for professionals and community members in many different contexts.

The Dulwich Centre Foundation is currently developing ways of responding to the children of parents with mental health difficulties, and has collected stories in order to develop a resource to support workers in this area.

This resource will be of value to:

  • teachers who are working with children whose parents have mental health difficulties
  • counsellors, psychologists, family therapists, doctors, and youth workers who are responding to families where a parent struggles with mental health concerns
  • other community members and workers, who may have some kind of pastoral, mentoring, or care-giving role, such as sports coaches, Scouts or Guides leaders and other recreational coordinators, and foster parents.

A web-based resource for young people

We are also developing an interactive web-based resource which will be accessible to young people whose parents are struggling with mental health difficulties.

Through a moderated, safe, web-based forum, we will provide ways for children and young people to provide meaningful responses to others who are dealing with similar issues, and find ways that the knowledge of both children and adults can be helpfully shared across the generations.

Children, parents, and mental health

‘Children, parents, and mental health’ is the first resource produced by the Children, Parents, and Mental Health Project.

It contains a collection of stories from children of parents with mental health difficulties, and serves not only as a collective therapeutic document and a document of alternative knowledge about this topic, but also as a valuable source of questions for those working with people whose parents have experienced mental health problems.

New narratives for parents with mental health difficulties

New narratives for parents with mental health difficulties by Ruth Pluznick and Natasha Kis-Sines, documents their work as part of the Children, Parents, and Mental Health Project with young people and parents in Toronto, Canada. This thoughtful yet easy-to-read article outlines the narrative therapy principles and examples of questions they used in their hopeful conversations about these issues. (This article was published in Context, 108, April, 2010).

To come to reasonable terms with one’s own history

To come to reasonable terms with one’s own history: Children, parents, and mental health, by David Denborough, extends on the work of the children, parents, and mental health project by collating some of the contributions to the project from people whose parents or caregivers have had serious mental health difficulties. It also explores new ideas in relation to this project, including memory projects and critical heritage practice, and ‘collective remembrance’. (This article was published in Context, 108, April, 2010. Click here for more information.)

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