Help available now for children whose parents have mental health problems

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Kildare Now Reporter

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Help for youths whose parents struggle with mental illness

Among those at the launch was Christine Mulligan (Maynooth University) seated left

The first ever online resource to help children and teenagers deal with parental mental health has been launched across Ireland and is now available to young people in Kildare.

The resource was developed under the guidance of people who share the experience of living in families where mental illness is a part of family life, and also in conjunction with service providers in the mental health field.

Information can now be accessed by through YouTube via the following link:(https://www.youtube

.com/c/thewithproject).

International figures suggest 68% of women and 57% of men with Mental Health (MH) difficulties are parents. Up to 20% of children and young people will have parents who struggles with their Mental Health either occasionally or daily basis.

This is often not spoken about and these children can be ‘forgotten children’. But research shows that information can be protective; increasing the young person’s resilience and reducing vulnerability to developing emotional and mental health distress themselves.The W.I.T.H project idea was first developed by Dr Sharyn Byrne (Senior Clinical Psychologist in the Castlebar CAMHS service) following research here in Ireland. Dr Byrne collaborated with Mayo Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), Mindspace Mayo, young people representing Mindspace and Comhairle na nÓg. “At least 10-15% of children and young people will experience parental Mental Health at some point in their young lives,” says Dr Byrne.

“All the research points to the protective nature of information for this cohort; it helps them to understand what it is they’re experiencing, how they are not causal and therefore prevents them from internalising the distress and affecting their developing self-concepts.”Dr Byrne found there were very few resources nationally, hence the idea to develop an online resource for children and young people who live with the daily (or occasional) impacts of parental Mental Health distress.

“The result is that we now have a much-needed young person’s guide to parental mental health,” Dr Byrne added.

“As a clinician with CAMHS for almost seven years, I work with children and young people on a daily basis that experience mental health distress,” Dr Byrne added.