A UNIQUE online resource to aid children and teenagers in helping parents who have mental health issues is now available to young people locally.
The With Project, of Wellness in the Home, has been developed under the guidance of people who share the experience of living in families where mental illness is part of everyday life. International figures suggest 68% of women and 57% of men with mental health difficulties are parents.
Up to 20% of children and young people will have parents who struggle with their mental health either occasionally or on a daily basis.
The With project, which has been shortlisted for the HSE 2020 Health Service Excellence Awards, was first developed by Dr Sharyn Byrne, a senior clinical psychologist in Castlebar.
She collaborated with the Mayo Child and Adolescent Healyh Services, Mindspace Mayo 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,” she added.
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 continues.
“And we have established this in conjunction with a group of young people who were enthusiastic about helping.
“As a clinician with Cahms for almost seven years, I work with children and young people on a daily basis that experience mental health distress,” Dr Byrne added.
Dr Byrne adds that, typically, young children use their parents and guardians as secure bases from which they can enter the world and return to if the world gets too challenging.
The With project is an easily accessible, informational forum.
More information at https://www.mindspacemayo.ie/WITH/index.html
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