Building Children’s Resilience in the Face of Parental Mental Illness: Conversations with Children, Parents and Professionals

Editor : Alan Cooklin, Editor : Gill Gorell Barnes

Building Children’s Resilience in the Face of Parental Mental Illness: Conversations with Children, Parents and Professionals

Book Details

Also by Gill Gorell Barnes

Also by Alan Cooklin

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Mental illness in a parent presents children with multiple challenges, including stigma, self-doubt and self-blame, ongoing anxiety and depression, that are rarely discussed in the public domain. This important new book, written by young people who have lived through these experiences, as well as professionals working alongside their families, highlights the relationships between children, parents and professionals, and the emotional issues they all face.

A key focus of the book is the relationships in all combinations between the children, parents and professionals, as well as the responses to each other illustrated throughout. It will be ideal for all those working in the health, social and educational professions, as well as parents and children themselves.

Reviews and Endorsements

"Describing how children and young people can do more than survive this adverse childhood experience but go on to thrive and flourish whilst supporting parents and family, written by its authors with emotional intelligence and intelligent kindness, this book is a must read for all practitioners working across the field of mental health, all health, social care, education and justice, and indeed all parents.

The impact of parental mental illness on children and young people has been a both much neglected area and where written about has had a focus on blame rather than understanding, finding solutions and building resilience in children young people and families. Now for the first time we have a book that listens to and learns from children and young people themselves. True Co-production of the lived experience of Children and Young is People is 'yes hard Hitting' whilst at the same time tender." - Dame Sue Bailey, Chair, Centre for Mental Health, previously Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Manchester, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Chair of the Academy of Royal Medical Colleges and Chair of the Children and Young People's Mental Health Coalition.


"Books like this can support professionals to feel confident to look beyond the basic treatment 'task' they've been allocated. A greater appreciation of the complexity of the family lives of their patients can add an additional layer of understanding and in can lead to a difference to the way we choose to intervene leading to more person-centred and individualised care which is better received, more impactful for the patient and family and more rewarding for the professional.

Listening to, working with and learning from young carers and children living with parents with mental illness is essential for any mental health professional working in the field. Recognising, valuing and developing work with children in these families should be seen as a part of our core work that improves practice and outcomes.

Having meaningful knowledge of, and being known to the family (Who are you? What's your job? Why are you in my house? Can you help my mum/dad/brother/sister? Can you help me?) can and should be integrated into our day to day practice. Its valuable to have tools to learn how to have these conversations effectively - building knowledge about what the children and young people are good at, how the family works and communicates together and supporting them to develop resilience in the face of their difficult circumstances and letting them know they are not alone.

Mental health and other health care professionals are well placed to be a consistent available adult who may have some useful (if not all of the) answers, who knows both the parent and the child. Hearing from children as to what they might consider such an adult to be like can help us focus on this area of our work.

Through their work as articulated throughout this publication, the authors demonstrate the vital importance of giving children and young people an equal place on the 'platform' to speak and be heard in their own voices and through their voices to be enabled to educate adult professionals about how we can effectively work with them and to co-create services that meet their needs. As we pursue a national programme of major transformation of mental health services this book is an extremely well-timed resource." - Chris Caldwell, D.Prof, RGN, RN (Child), PGDipEd, Director of Nursing & System Workforce Development, Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation Trust.


"As a young adult carer, a book that listens to young people's experiences is an essential read for anyone working with mental illness in adults and the young people it affects. It's not easy sometimes, but then life with mental illness never is. What this book does is show that listening and learning will help when dealing with mental illness." - Melissa Moody, Young Adult Carer engaged with The Children's Society Include Service.

About the Editor(s)

Alan Cooklin has worked as a family therapist, psychiatrist, and child and adolescent psychiatrist for some 45 years. For the past 20 years he has developed the multi-family Kidstime Workshops for the children of parents with mental illness and their families, and in 2012 established the charity (The Kidstime Foundation, later Our Time) to disseminate this approach. He has published widely.

More titles by Alan Cooklin

Gill Gorell Barnes works as a family, marital, and couple therapist in private practice and consults to other therapists of different modalities. For ten years she worked as Consultant to Family Court Proceedings in the UK Family Courts, both as therapist and expert witness. She has written a book on family life in transition following divorce, as well as a book on working with children and parents and a research project on stepfamilies. She has also written a number of publications that focus on working with highly acrimonious post-divorce relationships.

More titles by Gill Gorell Barnes

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