One in four Aussie kids 'have parent with mental illness'
Almost a quarter of Australian children are living with a parent who has a mental illness
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Tuesday, 06, Jan 2009 07:56
Almost a quarter of Australian children are living with a parent who has a mental illness, a new report claims.
A study published in the Psychiatric Bulletin today estimates that 23.3 per cent of all children in Australia have a parent with a non-substance mental illness, while 1.3 per cent has a parent whose mental illness is severe.
The authors of the report claim all previous studies on the state of parental mental illness in the country have relied on American date or small-scale estimates.
They write that while parental illness does not necessarily guarantee poor outcomes for children, the more severe mental illnesses have been associated with less sensitive and competent parenting, significantly greater mental illness in offspring, insecure infant attachment, and lower quality of the mother-child relationship.
"The estimate of just under 60,000 children living with a parent with a severe mental illness in Australia is likely to be very accurate as the figures are extrapolated to the Australian context from the 14,403 children of Victorian parents with a severe mental illness," the authors claim.
"This suggests a large number of children likely to be at risk owing to their parents' severe mental illness."
The report suggests the new estimates could provide important information to developers of psychiatric policy and programmes.
"This provides basic evidence to governments and mental health support agencies of a large number of children, many of whom could be considered to be living in a high-risk family environment," the authors conclude.