When your patient with a mental illness is a parent

Parents' mental illness can have a significant impact on their children. These patients often turn to GPs first for support regarding their parenting concerns

Need to know:

  • More than one-quarter of parents report moderate to severe levels of psychological distress.
  • Parents experiencing mental health concerns are less likely to turn to family for initial support but are more likely to seek advice from GPs about raising children.
  • Mothers and fathers are at risk of mental health problems that affect their parenting and their children.
  • Poorer mental health is associated with lower parenting confidence and greater negativity in parent–child interactions.
  • GPs are ideally placed to offer timely and appropriate support to their mentally unwell patients who are parents through identification of mental health challenges, referral for specialist advice and by providing credible, evidence-informed parenting resources.

Mental health issues among parents are common, with Australian data suggesting that more than one-quarter of parents experience moderate to severe